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16 Feb 03:11

Manvotional: The Essence of Simplicity

by Brett & Kate McKay

From The Simple Life, 1903
By Charles Wagner

When one passes in review the individual causes that disturb and complicate our life, by whatever names they are designated, and their list would be long, they all lead back to one general cause, which is this: the confusion of the secondary with the essential. Material comfort, education, liberty, the whole of civilization — these things constitute the frame of the picture; but the frame no more makes the picture than the frock the monk or the uniform the solider. Here the picture is man, and man with his most inimitable possession — namely, his conscience, his character, and his will. And while we have been elaborating and garnishing the frame, we have forgotten, neglected, disfigured the picture.

Thus are we loaded with external good, and miserable in spiritual life; we have in abundance that which, if must be, we can go without, and are infinitely poor in the one thing needful. And when the depth of our being is stirred, with its need of loving, aspiring, fulfilling its destiny, it feels the anguish of one buried alive — is smothered under the mass of secondary things that weigh it down and deprive it of light and air.

We must search out, set free, restore to honor the true life, assign things to their proper places, and remember that the center of human progress is moral growth. What is a good lamp? It is not the most elaborate, the finest wrought, that of the most precious metal. A good lamp is a lamp that gives good light. And so also we are men and citizens, not by reason of the number of our goods and the pleasures we procure for ourselves, not through our intellectual and artistic culture, nor because of the honors and independence we enjoy; but by virtue of the strength of our moral fiber. And this is not a truth of today but a truth of all times.

At no epoch have the exterior conditions which man has made for himself by his industry or his knowledge, been able to exempt him from care for the state of his inner life. The face of the world alters around us, its intellectual and material factors vary; and no one can arrest these changes, whose suddenness is sometimes not short of perilous. But the important thing is that at the center of shifting circumstance man should remain man, live his life, make toward his goal. And whatever be his road, to make toward his goal, the traveler must not lose himself in crossways, nor hamper his movements with useless burdens. Let him heed well his direction and forces, and keep good faith; and that he may the better devote himself to the essential — which is to progress — at whatever sacrifice, let him simplify his baggage.


Before considering the question of a practical return to the simplicity of which we dream, it will be necessary to define simplicity in its very essence. For in regard to it people commit the same error that we have just denounced, confounding the secondary with the essential, substance with form. They are tempted to believe that simplicity presents certain external characteristics by which it may be recognized, and in which it really consists. Simplicity and lowly station, plain dress, a modest dwelling, slender means, poverty — these things seem to go together. Nevertheless, this is not the case . . .

No class has the prerogative of simplicity; no dress, however humble in appearance, is its unfailing badge. Its dwelling need not be a garret, a hut, the cell of the ascetic nor the lowliest fisherman’s bark. Under all the forms in which life vests itself, in all social positions, at the top as at the bottom of the ladder, there are people who live simply, and others who do not.

We do not mean by this that simplicity betrays itself in no visible signs, has not its own habits, its distinguishing tastes and ways; but this outward show, which may now and then be counterfeited, must not be confounded with its essence and its deep and wholly inward source.

Simplicity is a state of mind. It dwells in the main intention of our lives. A man is simple when his chief care is the wish to be what he ought to be, that is, honestly and naturally human. And this is neither so easy nor so impossible as one might think. At bottom, it consists in putting our acts and aspirations in accordance with the law of our being, and consequently with the Eternal Intention which willed that we should be at all. Let a flower be a flower, a swallow a swallow, a rock a rock, and let a man be a man, and not a fox, a hare, a hog, or a bird of prey: this is the sum of the whole matter.

Here we are led to formulate the practical ideal of man. Everywhere in life we see certain quantities of matter and energy associated for certain ends. Substances more or less crude are thus transformed and carried to a higher degree of organization. It is not otherwise with the life of man. The human ideal is to transform life into something more excellent than itself.

We may compare existence to raw material. What it is, matters less than what is made of it, as the value of a work of art lies in the flowering of the workman’s skill. We bring into the world with us different gifts: one has received gold, another granite, a third marble, most of us wood or clay. Our task is to fashion these substances. Everyone knows that the most precious material may be spoiled, and he knows, too, that out of the least costly an immortal work may be shaped. Art is the realization of a permanent idea in an ephemeral form. True life is the realization of the higher virtues — justice, love, truth, liberty, moral power — in our daily activities, whatever they may be. And this life is possible in social conditions the most diverse, and with natural gifts the most unequal. It is not fortune or personal advantage, but our turning them to account, that constitutes the value of life. Fame adds no more than does length of days: quality is the thing.

Need we say that one does not rise to this point of view without a struggle? The spirit of simplicity is not an inherited gift, but the result of a laborious conquest . . . But by dint of action, and exacting from himself strict account of his deeds, man arrives at a better knowledge of life. Its law appears to him, and the law is this: Work out your mission.

He who applies himself to aught else than the realization of this end, loses in living the raison d’etre of life. The egoist does so, the pleasure-seeker, the ambitious: he consumes existence as one eating the full corn in the blade — he prevents it from bearing its fruit; his life is lost. Whoever, on the contrary, makes his life serve a good higher than itself, saves it in giving it. Moral precepts, which to a superficial view appear arbitrary, and seem made to spoil our zest for life, have really but one object — to preserve us from the evil of having lived in vain. That is why they are constantly leading us back into the same paths; that is why they all have the same meaning: Do not waste your life, make it bear fruit; learn how to give it, in order that it may not consume itself!

Herein is summed up the experience of humanity, and this experience, which each man must remake for himself, is more precious in proportion as it costs more dear. Illumined by its light, he makes a moral advance more and more sure. Now he has his means of orientation, his internal norm to which he may lead everything back; and from the vacillating, confused, and complex being that he was, he becomes simple. By the ceaseless influence of this same law, which expands within him, and is day by day verified in fact, his opinions and habits become transformed . . .

The necessary hierarchy of powers is organized within him: the essential commands, the secondary obeys, and order is born of simplicity. We may compare this organization of the interior life to that of an army. An army is strong by its discipline, and its discipline consists in respect of the inferior for the superior, and the concentration of all its energies toward a single end: discipline once relaxed, the army suffers. It will not do to let the corporal command the general. Examine carefully your life and the lives of others. Whenever something halts or jars, and complications and disorder follow, it is because the corporal has issued orders to the general. Where the natural law rules in the heart, disorder vanishes.

I despair of ever describing simplicity in any worthy fashion. All the strength of the world and all its beauty, all true joy, everything that consoles, that feeds hope, or throws a ray of light along our dark paths, everything that makes us see across our poor lives a splendid goal and a boundless future, comes to us from people of simplicity, those who have made another object of their desires than the passing satisfaction of selfishness and vanity, and have understood that the art of living is to know how to give one’s life.

The post Manvotional: The Essence of Simplicity appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

31 Jan 02:14

“The Single Most Illuminating Three Sentences I Have Ever Read about Our Civilization”

by Justin Taylor

C. S. Lewis:

There is something which unites magic and applied science [=technology] while separating both from the “wisdom” of earlier ages.

For the wise men of old

the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and

the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.

For magic and applied science alike

the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men;

the solution is a technique.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft calls this “the single most illuminating three sentences I have ever read about our civilization.” He writes:

Technology is more like magic than like science.

If you are surprised at this statement, you do not understand the essence of technology. Heidegger does: it is the fulfillment of the Nietzschean “will to power” as the new summum bonum, greatest good, or meaning and end of life.

To see this point, imagine an experiment. Children are often given boxes to sort things in, and the observer can tell much about the children’s minds by how they classify things. For instance, if a child is told to put a baseball, a basketball, a baseball bat, and a basketball net into two boxes, the “structuralist” or “static” child will put the two balls in one box and the two other items, which are not spheres, in the other box; the “functionalist” child will put the baseball and the bat in one box, and the basketball and its hoop in the other.

Now suppose you are asked to classify four things—

  • religion,
  • science,
  • magic, and
  • technology

—and put them into two categories. Nearly everyone would classify science and technology together, and religion and magic together. There is a point to this classification: science and technology are limited to the empirically verifiable and the scientific method; religion and magic are not.

But there is a deeper classification, and Lewis uses it. Science and religion both aim at conforming the mind to objective truth, objective reality (science conforms our mind to the nature of the universe, and religion conforms our mind to the mind of God and our will to the will of God).

Magic and technology, on the other hand, try to conform objective reality to the human will. That is why they both arose at the same time—not the Middle Ages but the Renaissance, not the Age of God but the Age of Man. Both are Faustian, Promethean. The difference is, of course, that technology works while magic doesn’t (usually). But their end, their goal, the purpose behind them, the human values and desires and state of soul that set them in motion, are the same.


25 Jan 10:58

False Alternative

by Douglas Wilson

“Some defend objective beauty (as they ought to), but they approach aesthetics simplistically, with a stopwatch. Others see how difficult it is, needing to involve much more than a stopwatch, and conclude that it must be impossible, and veer into an incoherent relativism” (Food Catholic, p. 19).

The post False Alternative appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

23 Jul 04:38


by Douglas Wilson

By now most of you have seen the video sting of Deborah Nucatola, a high placed operative in Planned Parenthood, discussing PP’s brisk trade in fetal body parts. If you haven’t, the video is embedded below.

What will it take before that which is self-evident is treated as self-evident?
What will it take before that which is self-evident is treated as self-evident?

That video perfectly captures the insolence of our secularist elites. The fact that she could discuss the sale and distribution of livers, hearts, and baby heads, and do it over wine and salad, has left everyone with a functioning conscience aghast. She looks like a nice lady, and Kermit Gosnell looked like a creepy abortion doctor, and so it just goes to show. The whole thing is vile. The face of evil looks out at America from the mirror — but we have not yet recognized it.

C.S. Lewis described modern evil in this way:

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices” (Screwtape, Preface).

Watch just a few minutes of that video, and ask yourself if the description above applies to Planned Parenthod. To ask the question is to answer it.
That said, here are just a few thoughts and suggestions:

1. Do whatever you can to make that video show up in every Facebook feed in the world.

2. Thank the Center for Medical Progress for capturing the footage. This was well done, and is one of the most potent things that pro-lifers have ever done.

3. Our nation has tried to muddle through the abortion issue by means of a willful suppression of imagination. This video cuts through all of that. Livers. Hearts. Heads.

But our natural response is a feeling, and feelings pass. One of the principles of war is pursuit. We must want this feeling to be codified in the public imagination. Planned Parenthood is an organization of ghouls with a taste for salad and wine. And money. So we should press the point so that every elected official we know of comes to the unalterable conviction that any vote to fund Planned Parenthood ever, under any conditions, is a toxic vote.

4. Embrace their inconsistency. Lean into it. Press it. This is because our nation is profoundly schizophrenic on this issue, and their inconsistency must be pressed hard, especially now. In other words, everyone is outraged because the body parts were sold to traffickers, instead of being thrown into the dumpster. Got that? Our nation wants to retain its self-respect on this issue through arbitrary legalisms. But surely the heart of the crime is the murder itself, and not the disposal of the body?

5. When the pope denounces free markets, he is talking through his mitre. Capitalism as gift is the work of the Holy Spirit. But like all gifts, when it is exalted into the place of the Giver and turned into an idol, it becomes something else entirely. Capitalism as ideology, capitalism as god, commodifies absolutely everything in order that it may devour. Merchants without Jesus are terrifying. What won’t they buy or sell? “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; For no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver . . . and wine, and oil . . . and slaves, and souls of men” (Rev. 18:11–13).

6. Now would be a good time for a bunch of people to get down off their high horse on any matters concerning the Confederate battle flag. If you voted for Obama (twice), the most pro-abort president we have ever had, a man who is an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood, an organization that we now see practices (illegal) partial birth abortions, which preserve more marketable pieces, an organization which chops babies into pieces and then sells them off for ready money, then you are the problem. You want to do all this feeling morally superior to Robert E. Lee? I am not defending the sin of any past generations, but it seems to me that moralistic fury from this generation is more than a little bit out of place.

7. The way out is repentance. The only way out is to turn from sin, and turn to Jesus Christ. America needs to take a lesson from what the Lord said to another nation with a heart of stone.

“Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers” (Jer. 44:9–10).

The post Ghouls appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

23 Jul 04:23

Lamborghinis and Limbs

by Douglas Wilson

A second video of Planned Parenthood has now dropped, even more devastating. Click through to see it, and make sure you light up the Internet with #DefundPlannedParenthood and #PPSellsBabyParts.

The post Lamborghinis and Limbs appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

11 May 05:30

Why the Strategy of Conformation Is Socially Ineffective and Self-Destructive

by Justin Taylor

Miroslav Volf:

In contemporary de-Christianized, pluralistic, and rapidly changing Western cultures, only those religious groups that make no apology about their “difference” will be able to survive and thrive.

The strategy of conformation is socially ineffective in the short run (because you cannot shape by parroting) and self-destructive in the long run (because you conform to what you have not helped to shape).

A good deal of courage in nonconformity is needed both to preserve the identity of Christian faith and to insure its lasting social relevance.

-Miroslav Volf, “Theology, Meaning and Power,” in The Future of Theology: Essays in Honor of Jűrgen Moltmann, ed. Miroslav Volf, Carmen Krieg, and Thomas Kucharz (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 100.

07 Apr 01:43

Our Transgressive Daisy Chain

by Douglas Wilson

Too big to fight, or too big to miss?

The great need of the hour is for Christians in North America to get a map in their heads, a map that has an x on it, that x indicating “you are here.” Related to this, we need to know how exactly we got here. We need to be oriented, and that means we need to be oriented by Scripture — not by the secularists who taunt us, on the one hand, or by the evangelical bedwetters, who believe every last one of their taunts, on the other.

It is not as though we were not warned. We were warned repeatedly, but we did not have the right categories in our minds to process those warnings. We had some prophetic souls who were able to point out where the x was going to be a century after their time. We are now standing on it and we still don’t know. Here is Chesterton, near the beginning of the 20th century.

“For the next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back . . . The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow, but much more in Manhattan.” (G.K. Chesterton: ‘The Next Heresy,’ in G.K.’s Weekly, June 19, 1926).

And this libertine excess, which throws off the “chains” established by God’s moral order, does not result in greater freedom for all. It results in petty tyrannies, soft despotism, and all those 16 ounce soda bans. Chesterton again:

“For when you break the great laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws” (Chesterton on Dickens, Collected Works XV, p. 151).

A glaring example of breaking the great laws would be our culture-wide unwillingness or inability to tell the difference between boys and girls, along with our unwillingness or inability to admit that these are the only two possible options on the menu. In God’s world, if you are a boy, you to need to grow up liking girls, and then you need to pick one. If you are a girl, you need to like boys, and then you also need to pick one. Was that so hard?In contrast, we now have had a generation taught by sex ed courses designed by a bunch of our major brains. As William Buckley once said, apropos of another venture by the major brains, if we had had one more brain at Yalta, the Russians would have gotten Westminster Abbey. Anyhow, back to sex ed.

At the end of this process of curricular mayhem, nobody is quite sure of anything. Every letter of the alphabet that gets added to our transgressive daisy chain only testifies to our high levels of cis-confusion. Sound it out phonetically . . .


. . . and you will get some idea of how astute and insightful our sexual education must be.

“I was born gay!” “Gender is a social construct!” Hmmmm . . . which is it? Actually, the thing that everybody is overlooking is that we are all born with an innate tendency to rationalize our sin, taking whatever meme currently offers the most protective cover for our lusts. We do not examine these memes for logical consistency. Not at all. Rather, the only thing we expect from the meme in current use is for it to cover our butt. Kierkegaard once said that men read biblical commentaries the same way a boy might stuff magazines down the back of his trousers before a spanking. Kind of like that.

So if you are still sane in these times of sexual bedlam, you are likely in need of edification and encouragement. So read through Psalm 106 and you will encounter a pungent evaluation of our current situations.

Where did our troubles come from exactly?

The Israelites “lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert” (Ps. 106:14).

Did we get what we wanted? Well, yes and no. We got the whole world but lost our soul, which Jesus once identified as a poor bargain. We got the highest standard of living in the history of the planet, which just turned out to be the milky product of Mammon’s millions of teats, expressly designed to suckle a generation of well-fed whiners.

“And he gave them their request; But sent leanness into their soul” (Ps. 106:15).

And this peculiar discontent of ours has envy at the bottom. Envy is always at the bottom of every discontent.

“They envied Moses also in the camp, And Aaron the saint of the Lord” (Ps. 106:16).

What then is the consequence of our sin?

“And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; And they that hated them ruled over them” (Ps. 106:41).

We are governed, if you want to call it that, by a ruling elite, an elite who were all apparently groped one time too many by their French teacher at their boarding school in rural Connecticut. As a consequence, a homo-jihad has now been declared, and woe to the chump who dares resist the absolute demands of our new sexual dhimmitude.

And that brings us to how we got here. We got here through evangelical leaders responding to every prescient warning with something along the lines of “that won’t happen,” “you are an alarmist,” “it’s not that bad,” “you must be one of those theonomists,” and so on. And then when the homo-jihad is declared, as it has now been, the accommodationists switch immediately to furrowed brow discussions of how we might best adjust to a post-Christian America. This is how our learned leaders have managed the process so far, in four easy steps.

1. There is no fight;
2. There might come a time when we might have to fight;
3. Too soon to fight;
4. Too late to fight.

In short, we are here because our respected evangelical leadership specialize in indistinct bugle blowing.

But this is not how battles are fought in the Bible. The main indicator that it is time to fight is when it is “too late to fight.” God loves delivering His people at the very last minute. He loves cliffhangers. He loves nailbiters. And He loves using men who love being used in just such a time.

“Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: And the plague brake in upon them. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: And so the plague was stayed” (Ps. 106:29–30).

Some time ago I wrote about David’s interactions with his marketing agent. There were also some recently uncovered conversations with his brothers that few know about.

And David saith, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the army of the living God?”

And Eliab replied, “Thou art an impudent pup, and knowest not that there are two kingdoms in the new covenant era. Goliath simply represents the kingdom of man. It has always been thus.”

And Abinadab added, “Yea, verily. And hast thou not heard that the ancient world knew nothing about our modern approach to mutually-affirming same sex couplings? Something to do with the original Hebrew.”

And David answereth him, and said, “Abinadab, we are speaking Hebrew now.”

And Shimea saith, “And the Philistines, though uncircumcised, have made great strides in health care. I believe this is something we simply have to recognize.”

And Nethanel added, “And don’t forget their humane approach to a living wage.”

Raddai saith,  “I hear the Philistine girls are hot.”

And when the others were silent, Ozem saith, “In another two years I should have tenure. I might be able to write a position paper then.”

Everybody in the Israelite army thought Goliath was too big to defeat. David thought Goliath was too big to miss. What we need right now are the five smooth stones of theocratic libertarianism. And somebody to throw the first one.

The post Our Transgressive Daisy Chain appeared first on Douglas Wilson.

26 Mar 03:49

A La Carte (March 25)

by Tim

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Double Play by Ben Zobrist ($2.99); The End of Christianity by William Dembski ($0.99); Andrew Fuller by Michael Haykin ($0.99); The Word and the World by Eugene Merrill ($0.99). You might also consider 2 titles by Jeff Goins: Wrecked ($2.51) and The In-Between ($2.99).

When I Don’t Desire God - Ligonier and Desiring God have partnered to create a course called “When I Don’t Desire God” featuring John Piper. It’s free for the taking! (Also, Ligonier is having an #AskRC Live Twitter event today.)

Q&A with Sam Allberry - Denny Burk recently moderated a Q&A with Sam Allberry where he fielded questions from both Denny and students at SBTS. You can watch the video at the link.

Cannonball - Whether or not you like the music that accompanies it (I did!) this video is very well done.

Honoring Our Favorite Theologians - Westminster Books is offering a great deal on 3 volumes written in honor of some favorite theologians (Piper, Carson, Gaffin). Logos has some good deals in their March Madness event.

Take Note - Every serious reader has strong opinions about footnotes versus endnotes.

The Christian and Common Grace - I appreciated this reflection on God’s common grace. Now there’s something we too often take for granted!

Emotional Blackmail - John Piper comments on emotional blackmail within the church.

In the gospel, there is included all that the heart of man can wish. —J Gresham Machen


29 Aug 06:50

Tour of Jelutong Wet Market | Penang, Malaysia

by Lindsay Gasik

Penang is a foodie's paradise. The island has been listed multiple times as one of Asia's Top 10 Street Food Cities, despite technically not being a city. A large part of that focus on the gourmet goes to its durian, with street stalls selling highly rated and priced durians all over Georgetown.

But while its easy to visit only restaurants and fancy durian stalls during your stay on Penang, it's a great experience to get back to the basics: the traditional wet market.

One rainy morning while Rob was still in America, a few friends and I headed to Jelutong Market in the suburbs just south of Georgetown.

Jelutong Market is the largest, most chaotic and oldest market on Penang. Every morning and evening the bustling outdoor market shuts down a major throughway to spread vegetables, fruits and durians across the tarmac. It's a labyrinth of fresh produce, funky smelling herbal medicine, plastic trinkets and steaming trays of traditional street foods.

It's also a great place to pick up cheap durian. If you've been paying through your teeth for Red Prawn, a trip to Jelutong Market may give your pockets some relief.

Cheap Durians

When I say cheap, I mean cheap. You won't find durian for prices like this anywhere else on the island.

At Jelutong Market, you can buy fresh durians for as little as 50 Malaysian cents each. These are the unnamed, wild varieties of durian known as kampung, or village durian. They're no Red Prawns, but they're fun because each one tastes different. It's like the chocolate candy box where none of the truffles are labeled - all a delicious surprise.

And while kampung durians can be bought for pennies almost anywhere in Malaysia, they're often days old and turning to vinegar. These are fresh, Penang quality. Just look at the bright green color of the stem of the durian in the bottom left corner.

While durians are definitely not the focus of the market, at least during the season, durians have an almost uncanny presence. They can be spotted almost everywhere, propped on piles of vegetables, hidden half-opened between pots, and hanging in unlikely places.

Street Food

Street food almost has a bigger presence than the fresh ingredients, with hawker carts of steaming bowls of noodles interlaced between the piles of vegetables and fruits. The market has actually become as famous for its food as it is for being a large, vibrant market place and many of the small cafes and restaurants lining the streets are popular places to grab a late breakfast and a hot cup of kopi

Penang's foodie culture developed from the unique blending of five Chinese ethnic groups with Indian, Malay and Sumatran influences that each have their own culinary styles. The melting pot was evident even to me as I wandered the narrow aisles looking for durian past restaurants boasting the best Wan Tan Mee, Hokkien noodles, or Nasi Kandar, a Muslim Indian rice dish.

When it started raining hard, we took shelter at this Indian coconut stall, and watched him expertly hack open coconuts with a knife that looked like a saber. He also sold freshly made coconut milk, a thick, slightly salty liquid that blended perfectly with the durian we bought later to make a rich sauce like alfredo.

Spread On The Ground
The hard thing about Jelutong Market is there's interesting things to see in every direction, including down. The majority of fresh vegetables and fruits are spread on tarps on the pavement, meaning that you need to watch your feet as well as the dodging the crowds.

If you're coming from a Western country, vegetables themselves deserve some time to gawk. You'll see so many different forms of vegetables that we don't have, or at least aren't common outside of the Asian grocer. You'll find sweet potato leaves, different kinds of bok choy, eggplants ranging in color from dark purple to lavender to pearly white, and many things that look like a strange cross between a cucumber and a gourd, intermixed with the baskets of chiles and the chilies and gingers necessary for most local cuisine.

It's with the vegetables that you'll find the cheapest durians, as they most likely fell from the backyard trees of the veggie vendors.

Musang King
If cheap kampung isn't quite fulfilling your durian cravings this particular morning, you can buy the really good stuff too.

Some vendors sell packets of the higher quality durians, mostly Red Prawn and Musang King. Since by this point we were getting hungry, we decided to indulge in some Musang King.

I mean, who could really resist these wrinkles?

It was only 15 RM for a packet piled high, which really is a pretty good price for Musang King.

Which made me wonder...the funny thing about Musang King on Penang is that it tends to be fleshier, softer and more wrinkly than Musang King on the mainland. I'm not sure if it's the special climate in Penang that changes the durian, or if the durian is actually a close relative of the real Musang King. I've examined the durian shell, and I have my thoughts.

But whatever it is, it was a perfectly bitter way to wait out a rainstorm with friends. 

It was so good, we abandoned our plans to head up Penang Hill to go durian hunting in Georgetown instead. The rain might have influenced us a little bit. But just a little bit. Mostly it was the durian. 

More about our Georgetown Durian Tour in a coming post.

Getting To Jelutong Market
The main Jelutong Market building is on Jalan Penaga, just off Jalan Jelutong, but the market now sprawls down Lorong Ipoh as well. 

Jalan Jelutong is a major road that used to be the main throughway connecting Georgetown to the airport in Bayan Lepas before the Lim Chong Eu Expressway was built. A number of Rapid Penang buses pass by the market, which are mentioned on my friend Tim's excellent Penang blog.

From Komptar, taking the bus takes about an hour. If you're traveling with friends, a better option is to take a taxi, which cost us 20 RM and about 15 minutes of our time.

If you want to learn more about Penang's foodie culture or just get your hands on some cheap durian, Jelutong Market is a fun morning outing. And a great place for a durian breakfast.
19 Aug 23:40

A La Carte (August 18)

by Tim

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Healing for a Broken World by Steve Monsma ($2.99); Confronting Kingdom Challenges edited by Samuel T. Logan ($1.99); Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um & Justin Buzzard ($1.99); Political Thought by Hunter Baker ($0.99); The Problem of Evil by Jeremy Evans ($2.99); The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer ($2.99).

Wrongful Birth - This is the awful story of a couple suing because pre-birth tests failed to discover their daughter’s genetic abnormality. Had they know it, they would have aborted her.

Iceland’s Aerial Landscapes - Here are some beautiful photographs from Iceland, just for a visual treat.

There Will Be No Sea - R.C. Sproul explains why the Bible says there will be no sea in the new heaven and new earth.

10 Grammar Rules It’s Okay to Break - Most grammar rules are okay to break, at least occasionally. This is a list of 10 of them.

The Ways We’re the Same - We’ve all been there, I guess. Here’s what not to do in an awkward social situation.

The Sin in Our Cynicism - Cynicism is not a Christian virtue or a godly character trait.

The most significant gifts in the church’s life in every era are ordinary natural abilities sanctified. —J.I. Packer


30 Jul 04:22

A La Carte (July 29)

by Tim

Here are today’s Kindle deals: A Model of Christian Maturity by D.A. Carson ($2.99); Connected by Erin Davis ($4.99); Holman Quicksource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls by Craig Evans ($2.99); Redeeming Church Conflicts by Tara Barthel ($1.99); Holman Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell ($2.99); Holman Quicksource Guide to Understaning Creation by Mark Whorton ($2.99); Which Bible Translation Should I Use? by Andreas Kostenberger ($3.99).

An Open Letter to the Caliph - Tim Keesee has penned an open letter that is worth reading. “You and your Caliphate are destined for failure. Of course, all empires, caliphates, and reigns of terror eventually come to an end, but something else is happening — another kind of failure in your command over the Islamic world.”

The New Face of Richard Norris - This long article about Richard Norris, who underwent a face transplant, is fascinating, and introduces some important ethical issues. (Note: the article is at the GQ site, but I’m linking to the printable page, so everything there should be family-friendly; at least it is as far as I can see.)

Making the Bible BeautifulBibliotheca is a massively successful Kickstarter project that attempts to make the Bible beautiful [again]. This matters, and here’s why.

Coffee Shops and Productivity - Here’s some guidance on when coffee shops may and may not help your productivity.

Cold Case Christianity - Cripplegate has a review of a book I really enjoyed (and recommend).

The whole life of man until he is converted to Christ is a ruinous labyrinth of wanderings. —John Calvin


03 Jul 22:56

New & Notable Books (July)

by Tim

I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received boxes of them and, in sorting through the pile, some have risen to the top.

LifelinesLifelines for Tough Times by Mike Fabarez. Here is how the publisher describes this one: “When tough times hit, we often find ourselves vulnerable—to doubt, fear, worry, even depression. We ask, ‘Does God care? Has He forgotten me?’ So why does God allow suffering? Author Mike Fabarez—who is well acquainted with deep pain himself as the father of a special-needs child and as a pastor who has counseled many through life’s hurts—looks to the truths of Scripture for answers. Along the way, he shares how complete trust in God alone can restore your confidence and hope; the power of focusing on God’s eternal goals for you in life’s temporary setbacks; God’s promises to love and protect you no matter what happens. This book will not only help you understand why God allows suffering—it will provide you with the resources to stand strong, rest in God’s care, and endure!” It comes with endorsements from John MacArthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jay Adams, and others. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

60 People60 People Who Shaped the Church by Alton Gansky. “The Church exists today in its current form because of the people who have come before us. From a consummate storyteller comes this collection of inspiring biographical sketches of people who played pivotal roles in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. In rich prose and spanning twenty centuries of church history, these engaging narratives range from the well-known to the obscure, highlighting personalities such as Josephus, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Galileo, John Calvin, Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Wilberforce, G. K. Chesterton, and many others. Readers will feel the past come alive and mingle in their minds with the present state of the Church, encouraging and galvanizing them to live their own faith courageously in our time—and shape the Church of the future.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

ExaltingExalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah by James Hamilton. This is the publisher’s description of the series: “Edited by David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida, this new commentary series, projected to be 48 volumes, takes a Christ-centered approach to expositing each book of the Bible. Rather than a verse-by-verse approach, the authors have crafted chapters that explain and apply key passages in their assigned Bible books. Readers will learn to see Christ in all aspects of Scripture, and they will be encouraged by the devotional nature of each exposition. Exalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah is written by Jim Hamilton.” This series is sound, readable, and affordable. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Grace WorksGrace Works! by Douglas Bond. The publisher says, “When the church downplays the gospel, it breeds its own assassins: moralists who yawn at the notion of free grace in Christ alone. Douglas Bond sounds an alarm but also offers encouragement, a celebration of grace, and biblical solutions that work in our lives.” Michael Horton says this about it in his endorsement: “Anyone familiar with Douglas Bond’s other works will know him as a great story-teller. This book is about the greatest story of all: the gospel. Issuing from the faith of a recipient of God’s good news and the care of a shepherd, any wounds inflicted here will be those of a friend. Grace is not the enemy of works, but the only proper source. It s amazing how many ways we can get that wrong usually, as Doug argues, by incremental and often imperceptible changes. There is a lot of wisdom in this book, but none greater than the wisdom that Christ is and gives us in his gospel.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

People of GodThe People of God by Trevor Joy & Spence Shelton. “The most powerful asset a church has is it’s people. People of God is a challenge to the men and women of the church. It is a challenge to believe what God says about his people still applies to the church today. It is a challenge not to settle for church as just a program. It is a challenge to return the ministry of God to the people of God. People of God lays out the theology and practice of community. Authors Spence Shelton and Trevor Joy seek to show why community is central to the Christian life, and how to practice it in the 21st century church. Whether you are a pastor or a volunteer leader, People of God aims to equip and encourage congregations as they build a culture of discipleship in the life of their church. The authors draw on experiences and learnings from their time leading two of the fastest growing congregations in America to give you principles that can apply in a church of 50 or 15,000.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Christianity on TrialChristianity on Trial by W. Mark Lanier. “Does the Christian faith hold up under scrutiny? What does science tell us about the plausibility of a god? Can we trust the alleged eyewitness testimony of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? These questions are worth investigating in order to find an answer solidified in fact and evidence. Mark Lanier, one of America’s top trial lawyers, uses his experienced legal eye to examine the plausibility of the Christian faith. Bringing science, current knowledge, and common sense together in a courtroom approach, this ‘trial’ elucidates a rich understanding of God and a strong foundation for Christian faith.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

27 May 00:29

SEGA 48-Game Mega Arcade Pack[Online Code] US Address Required $US4.96 from Amazon - Save $64.96

by lukeloop
SEGA 48-Game Mega Arcade Pack[Online Code] US Address Required $US4.96 from Amazon - Save $64.96

For those of you with a US Address or if you don't refer to
You may have another method that suits you
Contains 48 games from the classic days of SEGA.
Platform: Windows Vista / 7 / XP | DRM: Steam

  • free $1 Amazon MP3 credit - thanks to "lachlan1"

List of Games:
Golden Axe
Altered Beast
Comix Zone
Ecco the Dolphin
Gain Ground
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Crack Down
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Space Harrier II
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Bonanza Bros.
Ecco Jr.
Eternal Champions
Fatal Labyrinth
Galaxy Force II
Kid Chameleon
Super Thunder Blade
Alien Storm
Bio-Hazard Battle
Columns III
Sword of Vermilion
Virtua Fighter 2
Ecco: The Tides of Time
Decap Attack
ESWAT: City Under Siege
Golden Axe II.
Alien Soldier
Gunstar Heroes
Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole
Light Crusader
Shining Force
Shining Force II
Shining in the Darkness
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
Sonic 3D Blast
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Sonic Spinball
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic 3 & Knuckles
ToeJam & Earl
ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron

22 Dec 21:50

The Scars on Your Forearms

by Douglas Wilson

I have heard that this post was quoted this morning by @EWErikson on the Rush Limbaugh show, so I bumped it to the top so visitors could find the whole thing more easily. Welcome, all.

I once heard a story told of Ravi Zacharias, where he was being driven around a campus where he was to speak, and in the course of the tour they went by the art museum. This museum was designed as an attempt to match the same kind of nihilism that they would hang on the walls inside — doors that didn’t open, staircases that didn’t reach the top, columns that didn’t go all the way — I don’t know the particulars, but that kind of dada stuff. Zacharias made a comment that went right to the heart of matter when he said, “I’ll bet they didn’t do the foundation like that.”

Van Til once observed that unbelieving thought has to oscillate between rationalism and irrationalism, and the inconsistency that Zacharias pointed to is an example of that. In the political realm, they usually manage the oscillation frequency by being irrational when it comes to the demands of their own lusts (personal choice must rule), and rational when they demand that Christians play by “the rules” (we must live in community). In short, we are called upon to “rationally” support their forays into insanity. We believers earn the capital of cultural rationality, which they get to spend on their various benders.

Because we are all busy trying to live quiet and peaceable lives, as the apostle instructed us, this can go on for a while before everybody wakes up and says what the heck. When this happens, it is generally true that rank and file Christians catch sight of the cockeyed nature of things sooner. This is because our leadership generally went off and got educated (which is not necessarily bad), but many of them caught a bad case of the respectability cooties, and have trouble seeing that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. That is a hard thing to see when it is covered over with multiple layers of textured nuance, the kind of nuance you can learn in grad school.

The need of the hour is Christian leadership that is willing to show some intelligent fight. As Chocolate Knox put it in a recent tweet, “Homo’s know what Christians believe there’s no secret, yet they get surprised every time they hear us say it. Time to lean in.”

Time to lean in. This is why I want to come back to the third point I made about this imbroglio yesterday. This whole thing makes me think it is some kind of reprise of the Chick Fil A uproar. Somebody strayed from the Appointed Way, the homolobby flexed in order to shut up a critic, middle America responded by buying so many metric tons of chicken sandwiches, and then sophisticated Christians sneered at this inadequate and “entirely predictable” and “red statey” response. The same thing has happened in the aftermath of Robertson’s comments. He said what he did, A&E suspended him for it, and more than a million regular folks have signed on to a “Stand With Phil” website. And, here comes the point of this post, Christian sophisticates are critical of . . . you guessed it! But this reminds me of something that D.L. Moody once said — “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

The contrast must not be between how unsophisticated Christians fight and how sophisticated Christians . . . what do they do? At most, they demur, with a throat-clearing caveat or two. Theologians and ecclesiastical eggheads can make merry over this kind of pop culture melee if they like. The material is there — “look at those rubes, standing against the principalities and powers with their duck calls, zz top beards, and chicken sammich haute cuisine, hold the mayo.”

But the lack of self-awareness in this criticism is staggering. These are shepherds who feed only themselves (Ezek. 34:2). When shepherds have neglected the flock for so long, and the wolves are ravaging them, and the sheep come up with some kind of strategy to defend themselves, and the shepherds sit up on the ridge, laughing at the tactical inadequacy of what the sheep are attempting, what shall we call that?

So what do we need? We don’t need generals. We have that. We need generals who fight. We don’t need leadership councils. We have those. We need national leaders who fight. We don’t need pretty boy preachers. We have those. We need preachers who fight. We don’t need evangelical regiments of pajamaboys. We have that. We need fight, and we need to fight with everything we have — heart, strength, and brains. All in.

Show me your forearms. Unless there are scars all over them, then I honestly don’t want to hear your views of the inadequacy of these cultural clashes (Gal. 6:17). When the barbarians are throwing their scaling ladders against the city walls, if the only defenders at the top of those walls are Chick Fil A employees in paper hats and hot grease from the deep fryer, and rednecks with their beards and shotguns, and nobody at all there from Red Brick Memorial Reformed, Rev. Forsythe P. Snodgrass, D.Min, minister, then let us be frank. We shouldn’t blame the folks who are there.

“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Is. 56:10).

19 Dec 02:54


verb intr.: 1. To talk tediously. 2. To sing or play a descant. noun: 1. A comment on a subject. 2. An ornamental melody sung or played above a basic melody.
18 Dec 04:23

7 Councils: The First Council of Nicaea

by Tim

Today I am beginning a new series of articles on the seven ecumenical councils of the early church. These councils commenced with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and concluded with the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. Between these two events were five more, each of which attempted to understand and establish a unified Christian theology.

In this series we will take a look at each of the seven councils. For each one we will consider the setting and purpose, the major characters, the nature of the conflict, and then the results and lasting significance.

We begin today with the First Council of Nicaea.

Setting & Purpose

The First Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine had hoped to unite his empire under the banner of Christianity, but now saw such unity threatened by a grave theological dispute. Hosius of Cordoba recommended a council as the means to address the brewing controversy and Constantine responded by calling church leaders to Nicaea in Bithynia (modern-day Iznik, Turkey). Somewhere between 250 and 318 bishops from across the Roman empire attended, and the council began its formal deliberations on May 20.

The major issue the council was charged with addressing was the nature of Christ‘s divinity, and in particular, the relationship between the Father and the Son. As a secondary matter the council was to debate the celebration of Easter.

Major Characters

The two most important figures at the council were Athanasius, a young deacon who came as a companion to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, and Arius, a controversial presbyter and priest from Alexandria. Constantine was present as an overseer, but did not vote.

The Conflict

The conflict at the heart of the First Council of Nicaea involved the nature of God the Son in relation to God the Father. On one side of the conflict were those who held that Jesus Christ was created by the Father and on the other side were those who held that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Father.

Arius was the lead proponent of the created position. He held that God the Son was God‘s first creation and that through him everything else was made (Colossians 1:15). This made the Son the only direct creation of the Father and thus unique among all creation as the first and greatest created being. He believed that the Father‘s divinity was greater than the Son‘s, and cited John 14:28 in support of his position: “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Arius said, “If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not.”

Alexander of Alexandria and his protege Athanasius held that Christ was begotten, not created, and was, therefore, fully equal to the Father. The council agreed with this view and understood that Arianism undermined the unity of the Godhead, making the Father greater than the Son and contradicting such scriptures as John 10:30 and John 1:1. Over the course of the council, the great majority of the delegates came to agree with Athanasius that the Son had an eternal derivation from the Father but was nonetheless co-eternal and equally divine. Athanasius explained, “Jesus that I know as my Redeemer cannot be less than God.”

The Result

The debate lasted from May 20 until June 19, at which point the council produced an initial form of the Nicaean Creed which explicitly affirmed the begotten position and condemned Arianism. All but two of the attendees voted in its favor and those two, along with Arius, were excommunicated and banished to Illyria. All of Arius‘ writings were ordered confiscated and burned.

Here is the original version of the creed (which was adjusted at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 381).

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;‘ and ‘He was not before he was made;‘ and ‘He was made out of nothing,‘ or ‘He is of another substance‘ or ‘essence,‘ or ‘The Son of God is created,‘ or ‘changeable,‘ or ‘alterable,’ they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.

The council also agreed on a date to celebrate Easter. In a circular letter Constantine issued after the council, he explained: “At the council we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter, and it was determined by common consent that everyone, everywhere should celebrate it on one and the same day.”

Lasting Significance

The First Council of Nicaea is most significant in settling an essential issue related to the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was decreed to be eternal and divine, equal with the Father, and infinitely greater than a created being. However, the Council is also significant as the first attempt to achieve a consensus among all Christians through a debate between representatives from the opposing sides. It set a precedent for holding councils to decide other doctrinal and practical church matters, and for turning these decisions into creeds and canon law.

It would be 56 years before the next council, First Council of Constantinople.

18 Dec 03:34

Christmas Ham in the Slow Cooker (Honey Citrus)

by (Stephanie ODea)
18 Dec 00:13

Some of That Magic Constitution Dust

by Douglas Wilson

A number of months ago, I debated Andrew Sullivan on the subject of same sex marriage, and one of the points I sought to make was a point that he just couldn’t get his head around.

To review, the point was this: a society that doesn’t know what marriage is in situation x cannot suddenly and miraculously come up with an understanding of what marriage is for situation y. Once same-sex mirage is established, or even semi-established, you can count on it, said I — polygamists will start lining up, and they will ask for a judge to sprinkle some of that magic constitution dust on their lusts too.

At the time, Sullivan was most indignant with my idea that the trajectory of marriage law in this country was going to blow right past the arbitrary and capricious restriction of two people per marriage. And since that federal judge in Utah struck down their anti-polygamy law as placing an undue burden on the horniness of the men of Utah, as if they didn’t have enough troubles, I have been waiting by the phone for Andrew Sullivan to call. Given his behavior in the debate, I must assume that this is because he is busy rallying all his same-sex homies, mobilizing them to fight for traditional marriage. You know, the kind with two and only two persons in it. The kind of marriage that we haters insist on.

The judge didn’t legalize legal polygamy quite yet, but he did strike down the illegalization of informal polygamy, and that huge moving sidewalk taking us all into the marital madhouse has lurched into motion again — not that it ever really stopped. But now that it is obviously moving again, that means we can turn our corporate attention once more to the pressing duty of accusing people of hate crimes whenever somebody asks “is this sidewalk moving?”

Gives us something to do.

17 Dec 04:53

How to Deal with a Job You Don’t Like

by Jeremy Anderberg


While in an ideal world, we’d all have our dream jobs at every period in our lives, the reality is that everyone will go through periods of not enjoying their work. Whether it’s right out of college and you just need to pay the bills, or you’re 20 years into a career and finally realizing it’s not for you, it’ll happen to all of us. If you’re unhappy with your current job, you should be making moves that will get you to a place and position you’d rather be. But in the meantime, you don’t have to approach each day as if it were the Bataan Death March. Below, I suggest some tips that will help you cope with a less-than-ideal job. In trying them, you may even find yourself enjoying and engaging more with your work.

First and foremost, you may need an attitude adjustment. Do you feel like you’re doing work that’s “beneath” you? Or perhaps you dislike your boss, so you’re sticking it to him by doing shoddy work. There’s a saying: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” If you’re not doing your best work, for whatever reason, it’s likely that other areas of your life aren’t getting your best work either. Good habits are formed in the things we don’t like to do, but do anyway because that’s how you become a reliable man. When you start trying your hardest to do the best work you can, you may come to enjoy your work more, because it’s almost certain that you’ll feel better about yourself and more fulfilled in what you’re doing.

Negotiate changes. An unhappy employee isn’t good for anyone. Believe it or not, your boss and coworkers don’t want you unhappy, because it affects the bottom line. You may have this sense that your boss is willfully making your life hell, and while that’s certainly possible, it’s not likely. It’s more likely that you have different personalities, or that they simply don’t know your frustrations.

Are you overworked? Underchallenged? Unhappy with the pay? One of your first steps should be to set up a meeting with your boss or supervisor and just be honest about how you feel in a professional and civil manner. Maybe you’re just bored at work because you aren’t being challenged enough, so you play computer games half the day. Ask for some more responsibility. Or maybe you have too much responsibility — while there are times where overtime is a necessary evil, it’s not sustainable. Be honest about the amount of work that you can handle. If you write off the possibility of negotiating changes at work, and just assume that your boss is tyrannical, you’re only adding to your problem.

Other things you can negotiate include working from home one day a week, being more flexible with hours (shifting your work day by an hour or two every once in a while), even requesting to transfer departments if you think your gifts and passions would be better suited elsewhere.

Set small goals for yourself. If you’re bored or not challenged at work, set small “quality” goals for yourself. At the end of each project, ask yourself, “Is the best work I can do?” If it’s not, get back to it. Make it a goal to finish a big project a day early. Or maybe you’ll come in under budget. You will not only attract the positive attention of those around you, but you’ll feel better about the work you’re doing.

Do one small act every day to get you to your dream job. If you’re unhappy at work, you probably have some idea of what you’d rather be doing. If you’re in a situation that can’t be remedied and you know that someday you’ll want to be doing something different, take one small step every day to get yourself to your dream job. Do you need to go back to school for something? Read about what the requirements may be, or even start working on an application for that program. If you dream about starting your own business, get one of the zillion books out there on the topic and read a chapter every day. If nothing else, take 15 minutes to jot down ideas and what next steps may be. Doing this will help you see that your current situation is temporary.

Think about what your current job can lead to. Related to the above is to think about the possibilities that your current job offers. Even if you don’t like it, and plan on moving on, it’s not a waste. No matter what, you’re getting experience doing something. How can that experience be leveraged for further opportunities? Before joining the AoM team last January, I was relatively unhappy with my job. But, I had a great schedule, which left me time to work on my freelance, which led to this job that I now love. So even though my previous job didn’t directly lead to this one, it afforded me the opportunity to get here.

Find something you enjoy at work. Unless you’re a complete Mr. Scrooge, there’s probably something you can find to enjoy about your workday. Cling to that. It gives you something to look forward to. Even if it’s just lunch, you can know that there’s one part of your day that’s enjoyable.

This concept can also apply to the work itself. Now there’s certain jobs where this may not be possible, but if you can, volunteer for a project you’d enjoy. If you’re in marketing, volunteer to do some social media or video projects. If you’re in sales, come up with a list of clients you’d really enjoy pitching to. If you can inject something you’ll enjoy into your work, you’ll find your day much easier (and more pleasant) to get through.

Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day or week. Along with giving yourself something to look forward to during work, do the same with the end of your day. Allow yourself some small reward after working. For me at my previous job, it was the chance to have 45 relatively quiet minutes on the bus with a book in hand. I relished that time, because for me, reading let me wind down from the stress of work. Grab a coffee from your favorite shop on your way home (or make a cup when you get home). Go out to eat on Friday night to celebrate making it through another week. Some small reward can make the worst of tasks manageable.

Gravitate to and collaborate with the people you like. Even if you don’t like your job, take the time to cultivate relationships with the people you like at your workplace. You don’t have to be best friends, but having a work buddy is important. If you can shoot the breeze over morning breaks or lunch time or even drinks after work, you’ll be a much happier fellow. Even better is if you can collaborate with them on projects — even if they’re in a different department. Be creative and find ways to make sure you aren’t going through the whole day utterly alone.

Decorate your space. This might sound like a superficial solution, but there’s been plenty of research showing just how much a workspace environment can affect your mood and level of job satisfaction. The first part of this entails being physically comfortable in your space and having the right equipment/materials to do your job. How is your chair? Your desk? Do you have enough room to do what you need to do? Do you have all the right software? If any of these things are an issue, bring it up. Again, it’s likely that your boss just doesn’t know it’s a problem.

The second part of this may be even more important, however, and that entails simply the pleasantness of the space. If you’re in a barren cubicle with gray walls and a gray desk and a gray computer, it can be pretty depressing. Put up a calendar that features your favorite hot rods, get some pictures of your family and friends up on your desk…find a way to make the space really yours. Even something as simple as seeing a smiling face in a photo can motivate you to do your best work and remind you who you’re doing the work for.

Be intentional about refreshing. We tend to think of work as just one aspect of our life. The reality, though, is that everything else we do affects our work. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’ll be extra cranky for that morning meeting. If you aren’t eating well and aren’t exercising, you’ll feel sluggish all day, which makes anything worse, let alone a full workday you already don’t enjoy.

Treat your work as holistically as you can. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep will significantly increase your energy, and also your ability to take each new day by the horns.

In addition to that, make sure you get refreshed at work. Take a 15-minute break in the morning and afternoon. Take your full lunch break when you can; sometimes you won’t be able to, but you can even take charge of that every once in a while. Instead of sitting at your desk with your lunch, where you can be asked to work on something, take a walk outside for 30 minutes or bring a book to a coffee shop close by. Physically getting away (and being active) will refresh your brain for another few hours of work.

Have a sounding board/confidant. If you’re frustrated at work, keeping it bottled in will only make things worse. With your boss and coworkers, you need to professional and courteous in bringing up workplace problems. It’s also important, though, to just have someone you can vent to. Whether it’s a spouse, girlfriend, or college buddy, being able to say, “Ya know, today was a crappy day at work,” can ease your burden. This can be a little tricky, as you can’t really be public about it, and you definitely don’t want your sounding board to be a coworker, even if they’re a good friend. Also make sure to balance out work complaints with good things happening in your life. You don’t want your spouse or friends to be on the receiving end of constant negativity. While you certainly want to find the best in everything you do, it’s also okay and important to be honest about how you’re feeling at work.

Keep a gratitude journal. If you’re having a hard time finding those positives to balance out the negative, start keeping a gratitude journal. This can take a couple different forms. You could write out one thing each day that you’re thankful for about your job specifically. It can be something about the work itself, or something that’s a consequence of your work. For example, my being able to read on the bus before and after work each day was a definite point of gratitude. Not every job would have afforded that. I was also grateful for being fairly independent in my work, even if I didn’t love what I was doing. I’ll bet that you can find one thing each day you’re thankful for, even if it’s the same thing most days.

You can also do a gratitude journal that’s just for life in general. If you’re thankful for the truly important things in life — your health, your family, your home, the fact that you have a job at all — you’re more likely to see a crappy workday in a better light. Being more thankful all around will ensure that the things you don’t enjoy don’t take over your life.

While you likely won’t be able to implement all of these, working on a few of them will make your workday more tolerable, and perhaps you’ll come to even enjoy the work you’re doing. If nothing else, you’ll know that you’re doing the best work you can, and your character will thank you.

Please don’t give me your sob story or your complaints in the comments. Instead, tell me what you’re going to do to take charge of your workday and make it better. 


17 Dec 04:53

New Dad Survival Guide: The Skillset

by Brett

New Dad Header 1

When my daughter Scout recently passed the 3-months-old mark, I found myself reflecting on how smoothly adding her into the family has gone. Every newborn brings a certain degree of chaos into your life, but throwing baby #2 into the mix has been surprisingly chill.


Me & a newborn Scouter

But oh, ho, ho, was baby #1 a whole different story! When Gus arrived on the scene he turned our formerly childless life upside-down. Charlie at How to Be a Dad jokingly compares the experience of having your first kid to being deployed to Nam and jumping out of a chopper into “a jungle bristling with booby traps of dung-encrusted bamboo stakes.” That about sums it up.

According to a survey by Esquire Magazine, more than a third of men spend about the same amount of time caring for their kids as their spouse does. That’s how it is around the McKay household and I wouldn’t want it any other way; I love being a really involved, hands-on dad. I know a lot of men in my generation feel similarly; according to that same Esquire survey, men ages 18-29 are much more likely to spend as much, or even more time with their kids than their spouses. Yet desire doesn’t always translate immediately into ability.

For several months after you have your first child, life can feel pretty chaotic. You may have never cared for a baby before, have no idea what you’re doing, and feel majorly stressed and overwhelmed. You want to do the right thing for your kid, but you’re worried you might accidentally kill him.

There is a lot to fathering that you just have to learn from trial and error. But preparing your mindset and honing your skillset before your progeny arrives can help the experience of being a new dad go more smoothly. So today we’ll talk about the how-tos and tomorrow the preservation of your sanity.

They don’t hand out an instruction manual in the delivery room, but if they did, these two posts will cover what it ought to say.

New Dad Survival Guide: The Skillset

With all of the baby-handling tips outlined below, don’t worry so much about hurting your baby. They’re not as fragile as you think. Sturdy little buggers, really.

Starting Things Off Right: Give Your Baby Skin-to-Skin Contact

Leaving the womb and suddenly becoming untethered in the wide, wide world can be a stressful experience for babies. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that holding your baby skin-to-skin can calm and comfort him — stabilizing his heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, maintaining his body temperature, and decreasing his crying. It also helps you bond with your baby. These benefits occur whether it’s the mother or the father engaging in the skin-to-skin contact. Soon after your baby is born, and for the next few weeks, spend some time with your shirt off, holding him just in his diaper.

How to Hold a Baby

Hold Baby 2

Whatever hold you use, the important thing is supporting your baby’s neck, bottom, and small of the back.

How to Change a Diaper

“Spread the diaper in the position of the [baseball] diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate, and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” —Jimmy Piersall, MLB center fielder, on how to diaper a baby

A new baby is a poop and pee machine. You’ll be amazed that such a small person can produce so much waste. With a newborn, you can expect to change a diaper every two hours. That’s twelve changes in a single 24-hour day! Wowza! As the baby gets older, the changings will get less frequent, but you’ll still be plowing through a lot of diapers. Unfortunately science has yet to create a self-cleaning baby, so it’s up to you and your wife to clean your little tyke and keep their waste-producing faculties in shipshape condition.

1. Assess the damage. If you smell something funky, you know you need to change your little turd machine’s diaper. When you go to check the damage, be prepared for anything. You might have just a small little nugget waiting for you, or you could have a runny, hazardous waste explosion that has left the confines of the diaper. If it’s the latter, it’s best to move the baby near the bath, so you can thoroughly clean her.

2. Get your materials. Grab a clean diaper and four or five baby wipes (if it’s #2). Place them to the side.

3. Put your gas mask on and assume the position. If your baby is formula fed, be prepared for a pretty potent smell. If your baby is breastfed, the stink isn’t quite as bad. If you have a boy, it’s always a good idea to juke to the side lest his little sprinkler baptize you into the Church of the Yellow Stream.

4. Undo the dirty diaper and lift up your baby’s butt. Lifting of the tuckus can be done by grabbing your baby’s ankles and gently hoisting her feet into the air. Use a clean part of the dirty diaper to wipe any excess poo from her behind.

5. Wipe. With your baby’s little butt lifted off the ground, grab a baby wipe and start wiping front to back. The front to back motion reduces the chance of spreading bacteria into their privates, which can cause a urinary tract infection (especially important for girls). Make sure you don’t miss a spot. Place the used wipes on top of the soiled diaper. Then, with your baby’s feet still suspended in the air, remove the soiled diaper.

6. Close the dirty diaper and dispose. Fold the diaper on itself with the hazardous waste and used wipes still in it. Use the sticky tabs to make a tight bundle. Place inside a plastic bag, tie the bag off, and hook shot the bundle into the diaper bin.

7. Pat dry. If you want to avoid diaper rashes, make sure your baby’s bottom is nice and dry. Apply some A&D or Desitin if her butt is red or irritated.

8. Slide the new diaper under your progeny. In order for a diaper to function correctly, it needs to be on right. The back of the diaper has the sticky tabs on it. Lay your baby down on this part.

9. Bring up the front of the diaper and attach the tabs. You want it tight enough so that it doesn’t slide off but not so tight it cuts off circulation to your baby’s legs. Most disposable diapers have little ruffles around the leg. Make sure those are sticking out, or you’ll have some leaking problems.

10. Give your baby a high five.

How to Burp a Baby

Burp Baby 1

With all of these methods, give your baby gentle pats or small, circular rubs to get the burp out.

Babies get gas from sucking in air whilst feeding. Burping helps them get these air bubbles out. If you’re feeding a baby with a bottle, burp her after every 2-3 ounces she drinks, as well as at the end of her feeding. If she’s fussy or spits up a lot, trying burping even more often during the feeding.

How to Calm a Crying Baby

The most important skill to have as a new dad (if you wish to maintain your sanity) is being able to calm your baby when she cries.

Whether your baby cries a lot or a little will largely determine whether your new dad experience seems easier than you thought or a whole lot harder. Unfortunately, whether you get a really happy baby or a cantankerous caterwauler is pretty much a crapshoot. Regardless of the straw you draw, here’s how to soothe their wailing.

Why is my baby crying?

It may seem like your baby is crying as part of some malevolent plot to melt your brain. But usually there’s a reason; remember, when something is bothering her, she doesn’t have any way to communicate besides howling. Therefore, when you’re trying to soothe your scream-machine, it’s helpful to run through a mental checklist of what could be putting a bee in her bonnet:

  • Dirty diaper? Doesn’t have to be full of #2. A big ol’ wet, soggy diaper can bring them to tears too.
  • Needs to burp? Try the different positions outlined above to get the burp out.
  • Gas? Try laying your baby on her back and then moving her legs and hips up and down like she’s riding a bicycle. Or gently massage her tummy in a circle. You can try over-the-counter remedies like simethicone and “gripe water,” but they haven’t been proven to work and honestly we had zero success with them with either of our kids. I think when people believe they work, the gas would have gone away on its own anyway.
  • Physical discomfort? Is the baby too hot or cold? Is there something on her that’s too tight or scratchy? I once had a very fussy Scout on my hands, and she wouldn’t calm down no matter what I tried. I was getting pretty annoyed with her, when I realized the little pieces of hair that had stuck to me after getting a haircut that morning were now all over her. Gave her a bath, and once again had a happy baby on my hands.
  • Lonely? The world is a big, unfamiliar place for your baby. If she wakes up and no one is around, she might cry out for some company and just want to be held.
  • Overstimulated? The womb was a pretty boring hang-out, so too much new stimuli all at once can make your baby feel overwhelmed. Take her somewhere quiet to decompress.
  • Hungry? Give her a bottle or hand her over to mom for some boob juice.
  • Tired? Time for a nap.
  • Fever? An easy-to-use forehead thermometer is a must for when you have a baby. If the reading says she’s running a temperature, you can give her some acetaminophen. Be sure to check with you doctor for the right dosage.

Crying Remedies

If you go through your checklist, and none of the fixes stop your baby’s wailing, you may just have a case of undiagnosed crankiness. Happens to all of us. Here are some potential soothers:

  • Stick a cork pacifier in it. Not all babies take to the pacifier, and there are pros and cons to using one, but they can definitely work wonders in silencing a cantankerous newborn.
  • Put the baby in a motorized swing. Neither of our babies ever really liked the ubiquitous baby swing, but works like a charm for others.
  • Swaddle. Babies like being tightly wrapped – it reminds them of being back in the womb. Swaddling a baby using a blanket is pretty simple – but we really like these Velcro swaddlers for further idiot-proofing the process.
  • Run the vacuum. The womb was a surprisingly loud place, so replicating that kind of white noise can put your baby at ease. Running your vacuum next to them can be amazingly effective; it’s like a hypnotist snaps his fingers and says, “Sleep!”
  • Take ‘em for a drive. When all else fails, stick the baby in her carseat and take her for a drive. Highly effective at calming a baby down — and your wife will be incredibly grateful to you for removing the scream-machine from the premises.

What if my baby has colic?

If none of the above remedies stop your baby’s caterwauling, and she cries for three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks, she has colic. The cause of colic is unknown, and it can wreak havoc on your mental state and your relationship with your wife. My only advice is to try the “5 Ss” (Swaddle, Stomach/Side position, Shush, Swing, Suck) as proposed in The Happiest Baby on the Block and hang in there. Colic often resolves itself around 4-6 months in.

Try to be zen about crying (and walk away if you need to)

Whether your baby has colic or just intermittent fussiness, their cries can really do a number on your equilibrium. Since babies can’t do anything for themselves, their cries are designed by nature to get your attention, burrowing into your brain and refusing to let go until you alleviate their distress. Their wails elicit a real physiological response – you start to sweat, your heart rate goes up, and your body releases cortisol – the stress hormone.

Try to deal with this physiological arousal the way you would any other kind of stressor. I find it helpful to concentrate on disassociating from the cries – I keep telling myself that it’s okay, that it’s just a noise. I also practice my tactical breathing.

Studies have shown that abusive parents have a stronger physiological response to crying, which leads them to lose control. So learning to calm yourself while you’re trying to calm your baby is crucial. Before you have a kid, whenever you see a commercial about not shaking your baby, you can’t help but chuckle and think, “What kind of Grade A moron needs to be told not to shake a baby?” Then, after you have a kid, and it’s 3 am, and you’re holding this little screaming tomato that won’t stop crying, you think, “Oh right, this is why people end up shaking their baby.” You won’t believe how angry you can feel at a little innocent baby — how tempted you are to drop kick them out the window!

If you’ve tried everything above to soothe your baby, and your brain is starting to short-circuit, there’s nothing wrong with putting your baby down in a safe place like her crib, closing the door, going into another room where you can’t hear her cries anymore (you may need to turn on the faucet and the vent), and taking five. Your baby will be fine — really. Far better to let her cry for a little while alone than for you to lose control.

The things outlined above will come more and more naturally with practice. They’re the easy stuff really. More important, and more difficult, is keeping a healthy attitude and perspective on the whole new dad experience. That’s where we will turn tomorrow.

What skills did you have to learn as a new dad? Any tips or tricks for making them a bit easier?


17 Dec 04:51

New Dad Survival Guide: The Mindset

by Brett

New Dad Header 1

Yesterday we talked about the “skillset” needed by new dads. Things like changing a diaper and burping a baby will come pretty easily with practice. Keeping a positive mindset is harder, and much more important. Here are my suggestions for maintaining a healthy perspective and preserving your sanity after a baby bomb drops from the sky and blows up your old life.

New Dad Survival Guide: The Mindset

Realize you were made to do this. There’s a popular perception that being an involved dad is an entirely modern phenomenon — and that primitive men just deposited their seed and went on their way. But recent research on the neurological and physiological changes men experience before their baby arrives shows that male parental involvement is in fact deeply ingrained.

Three weeks before your baby is born, your testosterone levels will fall by about a third in preparation for you taking on a more nurturing role. (They’ll rise back to pre-birth levels about six weeks after your baby arrives.) At the same time, your brain will actually change too – becoming more adept at homing on a baby’s cries. As the researcher who discovered dads’ drop in T put it: “Raising human offspring is such an effort that it is cooperative by necessity, and our study shows that human fathers are biologically wired to help with the job.”

Contrary to the popular cultural stereotype of the bumbling dad who has to constantly be rescued by Mom, men can be just as competent at childcare as women.

Realize there’s no “normal” way to feel. People love the image of the man — especially one who’s typically tough and stoic – who cries upon first seeing his progeny. And guys will often talk about the overwhelming love they felt for their newborn as soon as it emerged from the womb. And if that happens to you, great. But realize there’s a whole host of different emotional reactions you might experience. I didn’t cry when either of my kids were born. I was just like, “Whoa, cool, there’s my baby!” I did feel a surge of love and pride when I first held them, but you might not even feel that. Instead your baby might seem like a weird stranger — a tiny alien that suddenly beamed down into your life. That’s okay too.

The feelings you have for your baby can be compared to a romantic marriage versus an arranged marriage. In the former, you fall in love first, and then make a commitment; in the latter, you make the commitment, and then fall in love. Both kinds can and do work just fine. So don’t worry about or think something is wrong with you if you don’t feel over the moon about your kid right off the bat – as you involve yourself in his life, your love for him will grow deeper and deeper with time.

It’s also very normal to have fluctuating feelings about your child after you take her home and as she grows up. I feel like there’s this idea out there that you’re going to love your child intensely every moment of every day. That’s decidedly not the case. You’ll always have a steady, unchanging love for them, but sometimes you’ll feel incredibly angry at them or just plain ambivalent. You’ll even have moments where you don’t really like them. Your love for your kid is like a little ember that’s always there, and sometimes explodes into a fire of overwhelming joy and pride, and sometimes smolders very faintly. All very normal.

Get hands-on right away. If you’re feeling awkward or unsure about being a dad, the best thing you can do is to ignore that feeling and spend as much time with your baby as you can. If you heed that awkward feeling and avoid the kid, it turns into a cycle where you feel more awkward so you avoid him more, making you feel more awkward, and so on. On the other hand, the more hands-on you get, the more comfortable and bonded you feel with the baby, and the more time you want to spend with him, and that becomes a virtuous cycle that keeps on increasing your confidence.

Be empathetic. A crying baby can be incredibly frustrating. One of the things that helped me stay calm was trying to put myself in my baby’s tiny, tiny shoes. I would think about the fact that these were their very first moments, days, and weeks on this planet, and that every single sight, sound, and smell was brand new. There’s plenty for a baby to be disoriented and upset by.

Even more importantly, I’d think about the fact that when something was bothering them, they had no other way to let us know except crying. Imagine if you felt sick or had an itch or had something scratching you, and you couldn’t do anything about it or ask anybody for help. It’s hard out there for a baby.

Realize they only get more and more interesting. Ernest Hemingway once said, “To be a successful father . . . there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.” Now I don’t endorse Papa’s tip, but it is true that while many women love babies, men generally enjoy their children more as they get older. Babies are cute, and sometimes I even have those moments where I wish I could keep them that little forever, but let’s be honest, they’re kind of boring. They’re these cute, but super stoic, unsmiling creatures who only sleep, eat, and poop.

But the good news is that they steadily get more interesting by the week. It’s amazing to watch them gain a personality and begin interacting with you bit by bit. The more they’re able to engage with you, the more enjoyable they become. (On the downside, the more they’re awake, able to control their body, and verbalize, the wider their arsenal of exasperating antics!).

Manage your expectations. Anger and unhappiness of all kinds generally have one root: a mismatch between expectations and reality. The more you think fathering is going to revolve around happily tending to a calm, smiling baby, the more frustrated you’re going to be every time she starts hollering. The more you set your mind that it’s going to be tough, the more you’ll be able to calmly roll with the punches.

This is especially important when it comes to their sleep schedule. Once they start sleeping through the night, it’s tempting to think, “Whew, this is great. Now things can get back to normal!” All goes well for a few months…then they wake up in the middle of the night because they’re teething or sick or who knows why. If you’re not prepared for this to happen, it can really bum you out. Count on it, and you’ll find it easier to deal. Don’t worry, they’ll get back on track again. (But don’t count on it!)

Embrace the challenge. I’d recommend going even further than the recommendation in the point above; rather than just accepting that it’s going to be hard, relish that fact a little. There are so few challenges in our modern life, that I really enjoyed and appreciated getting to weather this one. The more you see fatherhood as a challenge that will test your mettle and give you a chance to rise to the occasion, the easier it will be to maintain a positive mindset, and the more satisfying the experience will be.

Perspective 2

We’re you’re feeling tired and rundown, it helps to keeps things in perspective. Being a new dad is hard, but it’s not say, Iwo Jima hard.

Keep it all in perspective. While it’s good to expect the worst, also realize that in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that hard. There will definitely be times when you’re going to feel super tired and rundown from the late nights. To keep myself from sinking into despondency at such moments, I would think something like, “Well, at least I’m not tired from trying to stay awake in a freezing cold trench at the Battle of the Bulge….Right, this isn’t so bad. I can do this.”

Embrace this season of your life. When it comes to minimizing your frustration and maximizing your happiness with fatherhood, I cannot emphasize this point enough. It’s completely normal to have moments where you miss your childless life after you have a baby. But the more you concentrate on what you can’t do during this season of your life, instead of what you can do, the more unsatisfied and restless you will feel. Sure, you can’t go out with your friends as much, and doing pretty much anything involves a lot of rigmarole, but, you get to watch a human being’s development moment by moment and play a role in shaping that development. You’re holding a living legacy in your arms. That’s pretty awesome.

Realize that your kid is not going to “make” you happy. Studies showing that having a kid decreases your happiness get passed around a lot these days, but other research has in fact shown the opposite, and the results are actually inconclusive. If you’re worried about how your new baby is going to affect your happiness, keep two things in mind.

First, happiness is overrated. I realize this is a loaded statement that requires a lot more unpacking than I have room for in this post, but suffice it to say that your moment-to-moment feeling of well-being is much less important than your overall sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. If you asked a man who was in the middle of climbing Everest – a man in the midst of an incredibly painful and strenuous challenge — whether he felt “happy,” the answer would probably be no. But despite the pain, the climb is probably bringing him a deep satisfaction, and for the rest of his life, he will experience the fulfillment of being able to say, “I climbed that mountain.” Such is parenting.

Second, happiness is a choice, not something compelled by circumstances or your children. Blogger and dad Matt Walsh recently penned a brilliant piece on this truism. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s a choice excerpt:

“My kids don’t make my happiness. That isn’t their job. My happiness isn’t a responsibility that falls on their tiny little shoulders. Kids come into this world helpless, naked, and needing, yet so many of us immediately shove them into the Happiness Factory and bark commands. “Get on the assembly line and build me some happiness! Quick! Do your duty, sir!”

The joy and happiness of parenting is like the joy and happiness that can be found in many good things: it comes from sacrifice, self-denial, and self-giving. It comes with work and effort. I have to be the sort of person who finds happiness in giving, and I will not automatically be that sort of person just because I had sex and made a couple of babies. In other words, my kids don’t make me happy to be a parent; I have to make me happy to be a parent. And I am. I am beyond words. But that happiness will decrease if I become more selfish, and it will increase if I become less selfish. If you want your kids to make you happy, you are asking your kids to make you less selfish. That is a demand that is, all at once, incredibly stupid, laughably absurd, and profoundly abusive.

And then maybe we should stop worrying so much about this happiness thing, anyway. I think the happiest people are the ones who spend the least amount of time whining about their desire to be made happy. They do a thing because it’s right, or because they have a duty to do it, or because it is interesting, or beautiful, or enlightening. They choose to find happiness amidst it all, but that was never the point. They aim beyond mere enjoyment, pleasure and satisfaction. If your own happiness is the Alpha and Omega of your life, you’ll never do anything important or become anything significant in this world. Ironically, you’ll also never be happy.”

Keep doing the things you love. While trying to replicate your childless life once you have a kid is a recipe for frustration and poor parenting, you shouldn’t entirely give up the things you once loved either. Have a couple non-negotiables that you make it a priority to keep up, at least after the craziness of the first few months subsides.

Last month when I was rock climbing I saw a couple who brought along their 2-month-old and were happy as can be. I felt like shaking their hands.

Fitness has been something I’ve taken a lot more seriously this year, and I was back going to the gym every day two weeks after Scout arrived. I was super tired from the late nights, but it’s something I love to do and hate to miss. It helped buoy my sense of well-being, and it gave me a small sense of routine when the rest of my life was a little chaotic.

Isolating yourself in your house with just your baby and your wife and a cabinet full of junk food is not going make you feel good about life or fatherhood.

Keep up your relationship with your significant other. Speaking of holding on to the things you love, don’t let your relationship with your wife/girlfriend go to pot either. Your energies will definitely turn away from each other and towards taking care of the new arrival, and you won’t have much time to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. And because much of your willpower will be depleted in restraining yourself from throwing the baby out the window, you’ll have less of it for controlling your behavior towards each other. You may find yourselves bickering more and being more prone to losing your patience with each other.

So it’s important to empathize with your partner’s state of willpower depletion, be more tolerant of their foibles, and carve out time — however short — to re-connect each day. If you work and your wife stays home, take the baby off her hands as soon as you come in the door. Watch some TV and do some cuddling and talking when the baby sleeps at night. Remind yourselves to stop and hug. Once her doctor gives her the greenlight after six weeks to resume sex, try to fit that activity in when you can. After a couple months, find a babysitter and have a date night.

The best possible thing you can do for your kid is to have a good relationship with his mother. Don’t neglect it.

This too, shall pass. Adopt this as your motto during this time. When you’re in the trough of the newborn phase, it can feel like the tiredness and stress are going to last forever. But of course it doesn’t.

A child demolishes the old structure of your life — the one that revolved around you — and it takes some time to build a new structure in its place – one that revolves around your child. Until the new structure is complete, life can feel a little shaky.

For my money, the lowest time is around the 6-7 week mark. You’ve had a month and a half of greatly disrupted sleep, the rush of having a newborn that kept you going the first few weeks has evaporated, and while the baby requires a ton of care, she isn’t giving much in return, unless you count blank stares and dirty diapers. You really have to run on duty and commitment rather than pure affection during that time.

But then things turn a corner. With any luck, your baby will start sleeping through the night around 8 weeks. Once you start consistently getting a full night sleep, you can handle any fussiness that arises during the day. She’ll start smiling around the same time too, and the first little hints of personality will emerge.

Around 6 months, the new structure of your life will have tenuously been erected. You feel much more confident and less awkward. Being a dad starts to feel like your new normal.

A year out, you feel like a pro, and being a dad is your new normal. As more and more months go by, you, your wife, and your son or daughter find a really happy groove and routine.

But by that time of course, it’s time to have another baby, throwing everything back into chaos! But next time around, you’ll be a seasoned veteran.

Best of luck to you on this incredible journey.


No related posts.


17 Dec 03:36

Photogenic Lies

by Douglas Wilson

For a bit of balance on the issues raised on the passing of Nelson Mandela, I would send you here and here.

If you sow the wind, sometimes you reap the whirlwind. Apartheid, a system of injustice established by Reformed Christians, was the wind. A significant part of the whirlwind is that we are beyond the ability even to identify that the whirlwind is upon us.

Although Mandela was a thug and a bad man, he was plainly a shrewd thug. Upon his election to the presidency, he did not go the route of Mugabe to the north and become a permanent fixture. And after he assumed power, his willingness to fore-go immediate and global retaliation on the white population (on the scale that could have happened) was a small mercy. He opted for a slow motion destruction of the country instead.

But my point this morning is a bit different. I want to point out — because it always needs pointing out — that progressives are profoundly racist. They insist on treating the political history of South Africa in terms of skin pigmentation, white and black, instead of looking at the basis of the true divisions — two white tribes, and three major black ones. Whether we are talking about the English or Dutch, Zulu or Xhosa, for the liberal, what color you are trumps everything.

They do the same thing over here. All the Native American tribes go into one great melting pot, as though no serious cultural and ethical distinctions could possibly exist between various tribes — for do they not all look the same to the bigoted liberal? And they also act as though no distinctions existed between the white tribes that were settling the continent. But remember that the troops that did what they did to the Sioux had just a few years before that been doing the same thing to the South Carolinians.

In this world of progressive racism, the ironies run two ways. The progressives who cannot think outside racial categories are mimicking the founders of the system of apartheid. Race trumps everything. And the racist assumptions of those who built the system of apartheid — however conservative they thought they were being — have conserved nothing, and those assumptions have bequeathed some scary tools to the commies. The commies here are doing nothing in principle but what was done first in Reformed pulpits. In retrospect, that was a really bad move.

Nelson Mandela is undergoing an apotheosis because he and the lies surrounding him are admittedly photogenic. He is the right color, and so are the lies. The black people he blew up in his stint as a terrorist were the right color too, but they didn’t fit in with the right narrative. No need to show photos of them. The truth isn’t the right color.

06 Dec 09:12

How to Escape a Sinking Car: An Illustrated Guide

by AoM Team

Sinking Car 3

Web This post is brought to you by the T3 Tactical Auto Rescue Tool. It has everything you need to escape from a sinking car including a seatbelt cutter and window breaker.
What’s this?

Nearly 12% of the bridges in the United States have been deemed “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration. It’s scary to think that one might collapse while you’re driving over it, plunging your car into the water below. Becoming a victim of bridge collapse is hardly the only way to end up in a submerged vehicle, however. Many drivers simply skid out around a curve, go over a guard rail, and end up in a body of water. According to some studies, over 10,000 water immersion auto accidents happen each year.

Finding yourself in a sinking vehicle can be a terrifying experience and panic can keep you from being able to escape. Memorize these easy-to-follow tips so you can stay calm and get out quickly and safely if this ever happens to you.

For more details on escaping a sinking car, check out this post.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak


06 Dec 08:38

In a Pig’s Eye

by Douglas Wilson

The president’s Twitter account recently sent out this small dribbly contribution to the oceans of illiteracy that already exist out there. What’s another half pint?

Here’s how to improve our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs: #RaiseTheWage. http://OFA.BO/tXMYUq

So here’s the comeback, and I must say that it is hard to type and snort at the same time.

So why don’t we just raise the minimum wage to a hundred dollars an hour and make everybody well off? Or, while we are in this compassion groove, why don’t we make it a hundred dollars a minute and make everybody fabulously wealthy? To reply that employers don’t have that kind of money to spare is to betray a churlish spirit, and is frankly unworthy of you. Why should we allow a detail like “not having the money” stand between us and the right thing to do?

But be a man. Run the thought experiment anyway. Do this in order to throw in high relief what is actually happening every time we raise the minimum wage. If minimum wage levels “create jobs,” as the president’s infographic would have it, why in the world is he stopping at ten bucks an hour?

I will tell you what happens every time you raise the minimum wage. If you raised it to one hundred dollars a minute, virtually everyone in the world would see that you were doing it, and what a disaster you were being. But if you raise it to ten dollars an hour, you would be doing it in that passive aggressive way of yours with plenty of deniability if the consequences of your lunacy ever become too apparent.

Have I told you what happens every time you raise the minimum wage? You are raising the costs of legal labor. That is what you are doing. Whenever you raise the price of something, you are pricing somebody, in this case employers, out of the market. When you raise the minimum wage to one hundred dollars a minute, you throw absolutely everybody out of a job, pricing all employers out of the market, and everybody sees that it was you. But if you raise it to ten dollars an hour, the only people you price out of a job are black teenagers, who have no lobbyists representing them, and so the progressive stealth campaign against blacks proceeds on, unimpeded.

So somebody raised the price of legal labor. But if you are an employer who needs labor in order to function, you have three options before you. You can hire illegal labor at the true market rates, you can reduce your labor force via layoffs, or you can refuse to grow your force through refusing new hires.

Create new jobs? In a pig’s eye.

22 Aug 22:16

When God Says To Get Drunk

by Tim

Christians differ in their attitudes toward alcohol. Some Christians believe that we have freedom to consume alcohol in moderation. Others hold that the Bible forbids all consumption of alcohol or that, even in the absence of a clear command to abstain, it is so dangerous and so likely to lead to addiction, that it is downright foolish to drink. Regardless, all Christians hold that drunkenness is a sin and that this sin relates to the loss of control. A drunken man loses his sense and his self-control. As Solomon says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

On Monday I attempted to anticipate some of the cost to the church if young Christian men continue to spend their youth embroiled in the pursuit of pornography. Solomon warns that pornography is sapping them of their strength. In their strongest and most energetic years, in the years when so many promises and possibilities lie open before them, they are giving it all away to pornography. It saps them of strength and it saps them of life.

In that same passage Solomon asks, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” He describes this sexual captivity as a kind of intoxication, a form of drunkenness. Do not give up self-control and throw yourself into the arms of another woman, whether those arms are real or simply pixels on a computer screen. Do not invest your strength where it will be wasted. That is the very height of stupidity.

But it is not only illicit sex that is intoxicating. The same Solomon who would forbid getting drunk on wine or strong drink, and the same Solomon who would describe the stupidity of getting drunk on illicit sex, would command a different kind of intoxication. “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love (Proverbs 5:19).”

He does not criticize or downplay the presence of sexual desire and the longing to find sexual fulfillment. Rather, he admits it, celebrates it, and shows that to direct that energy toward adultery, fornication or pornography is to completely misuse it. His solution is simple: Put your sexual desire to the best use of all. “Rejoice in the wife of your youth…be intoxicated always in her love.” Donald Spence-Jones interprets this way: “The teacher, by a bold figure, describes the entire fascination which the husband is to allow the wife to exercise over him.”

Go ahead and lose control. Go ahead and get intoxicated, but get drunk in the love and passionate pursuit of your wife. What wine does to your body, let your wife do to your affections and desires. Let her captivate you. Let her fascinate you. Let her have that kind of power over you, that kind of control, that kind of ownership. Be addicted to her. When you are with her, when you are in her arms, let yourself go and just enjoy God’s good gift of sexual pleasure. Jim Newheiser says it well: “The man who has to look away from all the other female breasts put on display in our culture can freely enjoy his wife’s breasts. The wife may delight in being desired and being overwhelmed by the love of her husband. Their sexual thirst can be quenched in a way that pleases God.”

Pornography, adultery, fornication and all other sexual sin distort a good desire for a bad use. By its very nature this desire was intended to be intoxicating. That intoxication delights God, and is meant to delight us, when it is directed to the pursuit of marital intimacy. So go ahead and drink—drink of the love of your wife. Go ahead and drink to intoxication—get drunk in her love. But do not drink, and do not get drunk, in any other love.

Advertise here via BEACON

21 Aug 23:19

Managing Stress Arousal for Optimal Performance: A Guide to the Warrior Color Code

by Brett & Kate McKay

Think back to the last time you experienced a high amount of psychological stress. For example, after you were in a fender bender or before you had to give a big speech in front of hundreds of people.

How was your thinking? A bit scattered?

Did performing simple tasks like writing or tying your shoe become difficult because of how much your hands were shaking?

If you’re like many people, you likely experienced small cognitive and physical breakdowns due to fear and stress. Whenever we encounter stressful situations, our body is flooded with hormones that elevate our heart rate to prime us to fight or flee. Our bodies become aroused and ready for action – a good thing. But if we get too amped up, our physical and cognitive skills fall apart – a very bad, potentially dangerous thing.

Now imagine what your response would be if you were in the middle of a gunfight with a bad guy.

How do you imagine your thinking would be then? Would you even be able to think?

Would you be able to respond with like force or would you just freeze like a deer in headlights?

In life-or-death situations, be it a firefight or an emergency evacuation, it’s often the psychological stress that gets a man killed. Or more specifically, his inability to manage that stress.

In today’s post we’re going to highlight some of the research from recent years that shows what stress does to a man’s ability to perform in high-risk scenarios. Moreover, we’ll introduce a color code system developed by one of history’s best shooting experts that many warriors (soldiers, fighters, police officers, first responders, and even average joes interested in beyond average training) use to gauge their mental and physical preparedness in life-or-death situations. We’ll end the post by discussing a few of the research-backed techniques that warriors around the world are beginning to use to mitigate stress, allowing them to perform at optimal levels even in the heat of a crisis.

While much of the research and content in this post is geared towards helping you become a better sheepdog, the principles and techniques can also be used to manage stress in everyday situations, whether that be a tough challenge at home, at work, or on the playing field. Even if you don’t plan on getting in a close-quarters firefight anytime soon, you can definitely benefit from this information.

The Inverted-U Theory of Stress and Performance

invertedU copy

The Inverted-U Hypothesis proposes that increases in stress typically are accompanied by increases in quality of performance…only up to a point, though. After you reach a certain threshold, you experience diminishing returns where rising stress actually results in deteriorating performance quality in certain tasks.

Several sports performance researchers during the 1970s and 1980s found that athletes experienced increases and decreases in different motor skills at different stress-induced heart rates. For example, when heart rates reach above 115 beats per minute (BPM), fine motor skills, like writing, begin to deteriorate. However, when heart rates are between 115 and 145 BPM, complex motor skills, like throwing a football or aiming a gun, are at their peak. Cognitive functioning is also at its peak in this range. After 145 BPM, performance for complex motor skills begins to diminish, but gross motor skills like running and lifting remain at optimal levels. When heart rates go above 175 BPM, capacity for all skilled tasks disintegrates and individuals begin to experience catastrophic cognitive and physical breakdown.

While most of the research on stress and performance has been used in the realm of sports, researchers who study combat and tactical scenarios are beginning to use the Inverted-U hypothesis to help warriors of all kinds become better fighters and responders. By knowing how stress impacts their performance in life-or-death situations, warriors are able to take steps to help mitigate its effects either through training or stress-management techniques.

Physiological vs. Psychological Stress

As we discuss arousal (in reference to stress and heart rate) and its effect on performance, it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between heart rate increase caused by physiological versus psychological stress. You likely won’t see major deterioration in cognitive and physical performance when heart rates increase due to physical exercise. For example, you’re probably not going to experience tunnel vision after you get your heart rate up from a bunch of wind sprints.

It’s typically only when your heart rate increases rapidly due to psychological stress (e.g., fear in a deadly force encounter) that you’ll experience the significant negative effects of stress arousal.

The Stress Arousal Color Code

In his seminal book, Principles of Personal Defensegun fighting expert Jeff Cooper laid out a color code system to help warriors gauge their mindset for combat scenarios. Each color represents a person’s potential state of awareness and focus. Originally, Cooper’s color code system only used white, yellow, orange, and red.

In recent years, combat researchers, like Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Bruce K. Siddle, added two more levels, gray and black, for reasons we’ll dig into more later on in the post. Moreover, they combined Cooper’s system with the Inverted-U chart of arousal and performance to create a framework that associates a color level with a heart rate arousal level. Below we summarize this synthesis with text and illustrations.

Condition White

White 500-1

When you’re in Condition White, you’re completely unaware and un-alert to your surroundings. If a threat were to appear, you’d be caught off-guard and wouldn’t be able to respond adequately. Visual and cognitive reaction times are much slower in Condition White and we’re much more susceptible to Normalcy Bias. Because most people are sheep and not sheepdogs, Condition White is the norm in society. Ideally, the only time you should be in Condition White is when you’re secure in your home or asleep. When you leave the house, you should leave Condition White.

Condition Yellow

Yellow 500-1

Condition Yellow is best described as relaxed alert. There’s no specific threat situation, but you have your head up and eyes open, and you’re taking in your surroundings in a relaxed, but alert manner. When you’re in Condition Yellow, you’re less likely to be caught off-guard from a sudden threat and you are better able to respond should a threat arise. Heart rate is normal, so there isn’t any degradation of fine motor skills or cognitive ability.

Tactical experts recommend that warriors stay in Condition Yellow at all times. In fact, many Air Force pilots stick a yellow dot on their watch or in the cockpit to remind them to stay in Condition Yellow.

Condition Orange

Orange 500-1

You enter Condition Orange when you identify a possible, specific threat. Something isn’t quite right and has your attention. Your goal isn’t to take action while in Condition Orange. Rather, it is to become extra vigilant so you can determine if a possible danger is in fact a threat that needs a response. Maybe you smell smoke, or perhaps you identify a person in the water who may be drowning, or maybe the guy walking towards you in a dark side-street is acting funny. In all of those situations, you’d want to be in Condition Orange.

While in Condition Orange, you should be formulating an attack plan on what you’ll do if you verify the threat, e.g., “If there’s a fire, I’ll call 911,” or  ”If he’s drowning, I’ll jump in and rescue him,” or “If he pulls out a gun, I’ll pull mine and shoot.”

When you’re in Condition Orange, stress levels will increase, as will your heart rate. However, you shouldn’t experience any cognitive or motor deterioration.

Staying in Condition Orange’s increased vigilance level on a regular basis isn’t recommended as it can be mentally and physically taxing. If you verify that a possible threat isn’t a threat, you should immediately drop back down into Condition Yellow’s relaxed alert. However, if you confirm that something or someone is indeed a threat, you should immediately move to…

Condition Red

Red 500-1

You’ve verified the threat — now it’s time to implement the action plan you developed while in Condition Orange. When you’re in Condition Red, your mind and body are primed for action. Adrenaline is pumping through your veins and your heart rate is up to between 115 and 145 beats per minute. Studies have shown this to be the optimal level for tactical and survival scenarios. Complex motor skills, visual reaction times, and cognitive reaction times are at their peak.

While complex motor skills and visual and cognitive reaction times are at their best in Condition Red, fine motor skills, like writing or threading flex cuffs, deteriorate.

Condition Gray

Gray 500-1

Condition Gray wasn’t part of Cooper’s original color system, but after analyzing years of research, Grossman and his colleagues added it. When you reach Condition Gray, your heart rate rises above the optimal range of 115-145 BPM and goes up to 145-175 BPM. Consequently, mental and physical performance begins to suffer dramatically and puts the fighter at risk of being injured or killed.

Tunnel vision and loss of depth perception is common, which means a fighter may miss additional threats in the vicinity. Tunnel vision also often causes fighters to “not see” innocent third-party bystanders in a fight. This phenomenon is a big reason why most firearms trainers these days instruct students to get in the habit of scanning their environment after they neutralize a threat. The simple act of looking side-to-side can help disrupt tunnel vision.

Auditory exclusion is another common symptom of Condition Gray. Fighters who’ve experienced auditory exclusion report not hearing their partner’s gun fire, even though the gun was going off right next to him. However, they’ll often remember hearing shouts from their partner.

Complex motor skills, like gun manipulation or non-armed combatives, begin to suffer in Condition Gray. Gross motor skills, like running, jumping, pulling, and pushing are still at optimal levels.

One possible and positive symptom you may experience in Condition Gray is “bullet time”– a mental phenomenon in which everything around you appears to be moving in slow motion, a la The Matrix. Bullet time can give a fighter more clarity and help him react. In his study on deadly force encounters, Dr. Alexis Artwohl surveyed police offers who had experienced deadly force encounters and found that nearly 62% of them experienced slow-motion time.

It’s called “Condition Gray” because Grossman believes more research needs to be done on arousal levels where the heart reaches 145-175 BPM.  Grossman notes in his book On Combat that while most untrained men will begin to experience the mental and physical deterioration outlined above, some fighters are still able to perform at optimal levels in Condition Gray. Research indicates that with proper training and stress inoculation, fighters can properly and safely “push the envelope” of Condition Red into the elevated heart rates of Condition Gray.

Condition Black

Black 500-1

Condition Black wasn’t part of Cooper’s original system either, but was added by the U.S. Marine Corps. When you reach Condition Black, your heart is beating faster than 175 BPM. At this level of arousal, a fighter  — even a well-trained one — experiences catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance.

In addition to tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and deterioration of complex motor skills, other symptoms are present in Condition Black.

Most fighters will experience bladder and bowel voiding — in other words, they poop and pee their pants. In high-stress, life-or-death situations, sphincter and bladder control just aren’t a priority for your body. Moreover, it wants to get rid of as much waste as it can so you’re in a better position to fight or run. At this point, the decisions your physical body makes are overriding any cognitive ones. Lt. Col. Grossman actually discusses this issue in great detail in On Combat. While many soldiers and fighters won’t admit publicly that they messed themselves, in anonymous surveys conducted after WWII, one-quarter of soldiers admitted they peed themselves during combat and one-eighth admitted to defecating. Grossman believes the number was likely even higher than that.

Extreme vasoconstriction is also typically present in Condition Black. Vasoconstriction is when the blood vessels narrow to constrict blood flow. In life-or-death situations, your body wants most of your blood to stay near vital organs and large muscles that can be used to fight or run. One benefit of this is that if you were to sustain a wound, vasoconstriction helps limit the amount of bleeding you experience. Extreme vasoconstriction causes people to look “white with fear” as all the blood has been shunted away from the skin’s surface to more vital parts of the body. While this is a survival mechanism, it unfortunately leads to deterioration of complex motor skills.

Another physical reaction is that your forebrain (the executive part of your brain) shuts down and your more primitive middle brain takes over. Grossman calls this the “puppy dog” brain. Without executive functioning, you’re susceptible to irrational fighting or fleeing. As an example of this type of irrational behavior, many soldiers fighting in the frontlines of WWI and WWII reported seeing comrades run out from behind protection and into enemy fire without any rhyme or reason. As Grossman puts it, “in Condition Black you can run and you can fight like a big, hairless, clawless bear, but that is about all you are capable of doing.”

In that same study conducted by Dr. Artwohl mentioned above, he found that a very small percentage of police offers experienced freezing, or temporary paralysis during a deadly force encounter. In these cases, the body doesn’t fight or run, it just stops cold, leaving the fighter very vulnerable.

Managing Arousal in High-Stakes Situations

Now that we understand how stress alters our performance, let’s take a look at some of the things that combat researchers have found help mitigate its effects. While you can’t completely control where your heart rate goes in a high-stress situation, learning and practicing certain techniques can help you lower it and maximize your resistance to stress, allowing you to perform at optimal levels for as long as possible.

Practice tactical breathing. Tactical breathing was developed by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. It’s a technique that soldiers and police officers use to quickly calm down and stay focused during firefights. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Slowly inhale a deep breath for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold the breath in for 4 seconds.
  3. Slowly exhale the breath out for 4 seconds.
  4. Hold the empty breath for 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat until your breathing is under control.

Simple. What’s hard is having the discipline to do this when you start feeling stressed out.

Tactical breathing isn’t just useful for deadly force encounters. Use it anytime you’re feeling stressed out and need to bring yourself back down to optimal arousal levels.

Meditate. Studies show that individuals who practice meditation can clear distracting and stressful thoughts (like worry) from their mind more quickly than individuals who don’t meditate. That sort of ability comes in handy in high-stress situations like deadly force encounters.

The U.S. military is actually experimenting with mindfulness meditation training with its new recruits. The hope is that meditation’s stress-reducing benefits will help soldiers stay out of Condition Black while in the heat of combat, as well as help them recover more quickly after the encounter.

There’s not much to meditation. Just sit in a quiet place and focus on your breath going in your nose and out your mouth. Whenever a distracting thought pops up, don’t get flustered. Just name the thought, let it go, and focus back on your breath. If you’re like me, you’ll find that when you first start meditating, you get easily distracted by your thoughts. Don’t get discouraged; with time your mind will quiet down, and your ability to dismiss unwanted thoughts will improve.

Start off with one 10-minute session daily, and slowly increase your sessions to 20 minutes. If you have time, you may consider doing a 20-minute meditation session in the morning and another 20-minute session at night.

Practice visualization. Emerging research shows that warriors who visualize hypothetical high-stress scenarios perform better in actual high-stress situations than those who don’t. For example, officers who take part in visual exercises demonstrate better marksmanship than those who skip this technique.There’s also evidence that visualizing successful management of high-stress situations reduces a combatant’s anxiety and stress response when the events actually occur, thus allowing the fighter to stay in optimal Condition Red longer.

Here are some rough and ready guidelines on performing visualization exercise:

  • Make the visualization as vivid as possible. Incorporate all your senses and emotions.
  • Visualize problems and sticking points, but — and this is the critical part — always visualize yourself successfully overcoming the problem or obstacle. Never visualize failure.
  • Never rely on visualization alone. It’s important to combine it with tactical practice and role playing.

Use task-relevant instructional self-talk. To counter the detrimental performance effects of stress, talk yourself through complex actions as if you were an instructor. For example, many police officers are trained to speak out loud during every step in the gun firing process using the acronym BRASS:

  • Breathe
  • Relax
  • Aim
  • Sight
  • Squeeze

Another example of task-relevant instructional self-talk would be to yell out “Tap, Rack, and Go!” whenever you encounter a gun jam.

Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy. Research has shown that this sort of self-talk can increase performance on both cognitive and physical tasks.

The key with this type of self-talk is to keep it brief and positive.

Stay active and outwardly focused. In the book War, by Sebastian Junger (which I highly recommend), he shares an interesting study done on a Special Forces team during the Vietnam War. The team was stationed at an isolated base along the Cambodian border and knew there was a good chance of the base being completely overrun by a force of Vietcong. Surprisingly, researchers found that in contrast to the officers, the stress levels of the enlisted men actually dropped before an expected attack, and rose when the attack failed to materialize. Researchers offered this explanation: “The members of this Special Forces team…were action-oriented individuals who characteristically spent little time in introspection. Their response to any environmental threat was to engage in a furor of activity which rapidly dissipated the developing tension.” This activity included laying C-wire and mines around the base, which as Junger notes, “was something they knew how to do and were good at, and the very act of doing it calmed their nerves.”

When you’re facing a threat you can anticipate in advance, take a cue from the men of the Special Forces; instead of sitting around navel-gazing, bouncing your leg up and down, and getting your heart rate up before anything even happens, keep yourself occupied with preparations – check your equipment, mentally rehearse your mission, etc.

Stress Inoculation Through Realistic Training

Remember the old saying amongst soldiers: “You do not rise to the occasion in combat, you sink to the level of training.”

Thus, the best way to overcome the detrimental effects of stress on performance is to inoculate yourself from it altogether through consistent, realistic training.

From a self-defense standpoint, this means you need to do more than just go to the gun range to practice your marksmanship or punch the heavy bag in your garage. You’ll actually need to train your techniques under the same sort of pressure you’d experience in a real-life situation. For handgun training, this could be achieved with simunitions or airsoft guns; with hand-to-hand self-defense, live sparring can give you similar stress levels as a real-life fight.

With proper, consistent, and realistic training, you can hone your body to perform at optimal levels, even when the going gets the toughest.



Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge by Bruce K. Siddle

On Combat by Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen

Warrior Mindset by Dr. Michael Asken, Loren W. Christensen, Dave Grossman and Human Factor Research

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak


21 Aug 23:13

Things All Scouts Should Know: 16 Camping and Life Hacks from 1911

by Brett & Kate McKay


Editor’s note: In 1911, the first edition of Boys’ Life magazine was published. The first several issues included a short-lived section called “Things All Scouts Should Know,” which featured short, practical tips for boys at home and out camping. Below is a collection of my favorites; some are actually practical and handy, others just fun and interesting, and all are enjoyable to read.




If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of the Irishman who was “hanging between nothing and space” with only a rope to hold on to, you should be able to form quite a comfortable little seat if you hold the rope as depicted in this sketch.

All you have to do is to hang on for a moment or two with your left hand, catch the end of the rope with the right, and bring it up under you in the form of a loop. Then grip both the end and the rope itself together, and you will find yourself sitting in the loop, and easily able to support your own weight.



Tweezers are a thing one rarely sees about, and they are always not in evidence when required; that is, when one is unfortunate enough to run a splinter into one’s hand.

When scouting, one is always liable to get thorns and splinters into the flesh, and if one carries a pen-nib on one’s person it will be found the best of tweezers. In the illustration, a hand in which a splinter has entered is shown, and this is the method by which it is ejected.

Press the nib firmly at B, just in front of the splinter, when it will open. See that the splinter is between the two divisions, then press the nib along each side of the splinter and let it close up. The splinter will come out without any trouble.



You may have occasion at one time or another to hoist some heavy article from one place to another.

If you are doing this by means of a hook, you should know the correct way of roping the article on to the hook.

A “Blackwell Hitch” should be used, and this is simply and quickly made by looping the rope over the hook, as it is not nearly so likely to slip.



Greasy plates are hard to clean without hot water, and when out scouting, or in camp, boiling water is not always easy to obtain. A tuft of grass with damp earth adhering to it is a good substitute. Rub the earth well over the plate, and it will soon remove the grease. Then rinse the plate in cold water, and it will be perfectly clean.

Failing sand, earth will also clean grease or oil out of bottles.



An uncovered signal light displayed on the top of a hill is, of course, in the very finest position for being blown out by the wind.

On the other hand, when you want to make use of such a light, a glass-protected lantern is not always at hand.

But a candle, or a piece of one, and an empty bottle are generally to be obtained, and with those you can get along very famously if you know how, even on the very gustiest of nights.

Break off the bottom of the glass bottle, which should be without a cork. Plant the candle in the ground, light it, and quickly pop the bottle over it, pressing the latter down firmly into the earth.

There you have a cheery little beacon, that will shine out and not blow out, no matter how the gale rages.



Many people soil the binding of new books by carelessly opening them. The proper way to open a volume when it is new is to place it with its back on the table and then to let both the board covers gently down while holding the leaves in one hand. Then open a few leaves at the front, then a few at the back, until the center is reached.

By going slowly like this the first two or three times the book is opened, you will make it last much longer than you would by opening it in a great hurry.



The simple contrivance that is known as the camp night-light, is one that often proves handy for camping out. It is formed of a small tin without a lid, and half-filled with fine earth.

Upon this are melted any odd ends of candle, until a fair thickness of tallow has been obtained. A thin, dry stick neatly wrapped round with a piece of say, calico, is then pushed down through the tallow and earth, right down to the bottom of the tin. When this wick is lighted, the camp night-light sheds a modest but useful glow all around.

And, of course, there is no oil to get dangerously upset or spilling about, to spoil things.



When hot water is poured into a glass, the latter is very likely to crack if precautions are not taken. To prevent the glass from breaking, you should place a spoon in it and let the hot liquid run down the metal, as shown in the illustration.

This will take the heat away from the glass, and so enable you to keep your store of glass intact.



Every Scout is on terms of great familiarity with the egg. Camp life without it would not seem like camp life, for does not the egg fill one of the most important roles in the menu? Boiled in a few minutes it is a handy thing when there is a rush on, and it can be made the backbone of many a tasty dish. No wonder that it is an autocrat of the camp.

But, boiled in a billy-can it can give the boiler something to think about. It’s a very easy thing to drop an egg into a billy-can full of water, but it’s not such an easy matter to get it out. A spoon of no mean size is required to manipulate the egg.

To save time and trouble in boiling an egg, a Scout, having experienced the above difficulties, has constructed the egg-holder shown in the diagram. It is made of wire, spiral-shaped at one end to contain the egg, and with a hook at the other to fasten on the side of the can. In this way the egg is held fast while boiling so that it can be easily removed from the billy when it is done by lifting the hook.



Some people when they wish to hide anything go to a great deal of trouble. The chimney is now too well known for absolute security, so digging in the ground in the coal cellar or some such place is resorted to.

There is not the slightest reason to make such a fuss, for the best place to hide anything is in an object which does not seem to offer any scope as a hiding place.

Soldiers seem to have realized this, and it is said that when “Tommy Atkins” received his money he used to make a hole in a bar of soap, place the coins in the middle, as shown in the illustration, and seal up the end by banging the bar down on something hard. Who would think of looking for anything in such a place?

Tobacco has been smuggled into this country in imported broom handles and lady smugglers used to cross the Atlantic with babies who were never known to cry. The reason was made apparent when it was discovered that the babies consisted of lace and other contraband articles.

So when you want to hide something give a simple hiding place a preference.



For fastening a rope upon which strain is to be placed, a picket, or sharp stake, like a big tent-peg, is commonly used. But, if the strain is great, or if the only pickets you have handy happen to be small, it may be necessary to make a holdfast for the purpose.

This is constructed of three pickets, driven into the ground at a slope, one directly behind the other, and the top of each one lashed to the lower part of the picket behind it, as shown.

Such a holdfast should be neatly put together, and it will then withstand a tremendous strain on the rope.



Here is something more about the egg, much more important than the boiling question. It is to see whether it is worth boiling or not. No one but a person unpossessed of the sense of smell can mistake a bad egg when it is opened, and the most unfortunate individual is he who has opened it and perhaps carried the first spoonful in the direction of the nose.

The difference between a fresh and a stale egg can be detected, however, the moment they are put in the water for boiling the fresh egg immediately sinks to the bottom and lays flat upon its side, whereas, the stale egg will be seen to rise on end. If it rises slightly it may only be a trifle stale, but according to the angle at which it inclines with the bottom of the saucepan, its staleness can be told. If it rises to the top, as shown in the illustration — well, take it out to the dust bin, but be careful not to break it. One disadvantage to our camp boiling receptacle, described above, is that it prevents the testing of the egg in its boiling water, and in this case it is advisable to test the egg in a fairly shallow vessel beforehand, or with cold water in the billy-can.



There is a right and a wrong way of doing everything, even to the flattening of a projecting nail.

The usual way this is done is shown in Fig. 1, and, although it may be flattened down a little more than is shown in the illustration, the method is wrong and the point is always liable to catch in everything it comes into contact with.

The proper way to flatten the nail down is to place some thin circular object, such as a piece of wire (A), under the projection when hammering down (Fig. 2). This has the effect of turning the point round so that when it is finally hammered flush with the wood (Fig. 3), the point will be driven in, instead of being dangerously turned out.



Provided the soil is dry and not loose or uneven, a very good mess table for use in camp can be made as follows:

Dig a fair sized oval trench about two feet deep, leaving an oblong space in the center, which forms the table, and then sit round on the ground, with your legs in the trench, and your plates of food in front of you, as shown in the illustration.



Many Scouts, no doubt, find it difficult to keep a jersey, or sweater, neatly and securely rolled. Here is a method which will overcome this difficulty, and make it quite easy to strap the jersey on to the belt.

First lay it out flat, as in Fig. 1, folding over the collar B, at the neck. Then fold over the body, A, three times, as shown by the dotted lines.

The jersey should then assume the appearance of Fig. 2.

Next turn the sleeve,  C, over the body, A, as in Fig. 3, and then pull the arm, D, over the body and other sleeve, turning it inside out for that purpose, after the fashion in which you roll a pair of stockings together.

The result, as shown in Fig. 4, is a neat oval roll, which can be easily and comfortably strapped on to your belt.



One of the most annoying things that can happen when you are running is to feel that unpleasant pain in the side known as the stitch. The accompanying illustration shows a quick and easy cure for this annoyance.

Bend down in the manner shown, place your hands on your hips, with thumbs to the rear, and then start walking along in this undignified position.

When you have proceeded a few yards, then get up again and you will find that the pain has disappeared.

Do you have any camping/scouting hacks that you learned as a youngster? Share them with us in the comments! 


21 Aug 22:08

Fatherhood outside St. Mary's and inside Walmart...

by Tim Bayly

(Prince) William says he practiced making sure the car seat fit securely before driving off. "Driving your son and your wife away from hospital was really important to me," he said.

Standing in line at Walmart, I watched a normal Joe ahead of me buying his daughter her school supplies. The man helped his eight-year-old daughter transfer pencils, notebooks, and other stuff I didn't recognize from the cart onto the small 20-items-or-less checkout counter. Halfway through the piling up, the girl looked up at her Dad and demonstrated her budding gift for commanding the male sex: "Dad, let me do it!"

He acted like he hadn't heard and, thankfully, Her Royal Highness didn't protest again. Last on the pile was the annual backpack with this year's graphics and colors. Then, having accomplished her part of the mission, the girl walked a few feet and sat down on a bench from whence she surveyed her domain and awaited her father's duty of paying for her life and happiness. You know, money.

Dad wasn't tall and wore shorts hanging down to his calves. Nothing notable in his looks or clothing, nor in the way he fulfilled the privileges of fatherhood. As he ran his credit card and punched buttons, the cashier smiled and asked if school was starting this week?

He said "yup, Tuesday" and they exchanged conspiratorial looks of knowingness. I thought for a second about getting down on my knees and pleading with this innocent father not to send his precious daughter... to the soul-shredding temples of secularism and God-hatred that are most public schools today, but I didn't have the heart for it.

Instead, my mind wandered afield to thoughts of God's inestimable kindness in giving us daughters. Sons too—but especially daughters. How they soften us up! Whether they're newborn or ten, twenty, or thirty years old, what joy they bring us! Blushes and pimples are equally beautiful and, when we hug them, we nuzzle their sweet-smelling hair and all is well in God's world. So precious to us.

These were my thoughts there in Walmart. In our age of sexual depredations, may I still speak this way without offending the righteous? 

Then I thought that this moment in this man's life was just a single act of kindness from God that is reproduced every time a man loves a woman fruitfully and is presented a daughter by His wife through the providence of God Almighty. In a few years that man luxuriates in the glorious privilege of driving her to Walmart to get her school supplies. There is no greater joy in life. Honestly.

Unless it's figuring out how to plug in the car seat, strap in your newborn ever so gently, then turn to hold your child's mother's hand as she climbs onto the passenger seat ever so gingerly for the ride home from St. Mary's Hospital. Again, no greater joy.

With fatherhood, it matters not a bit whether it's the joy of a prince or a fading shrimp of a wannabe jock at Walmart. They're both agreed and the cashier takes joy watching. What grandmother doesn't love every dutiful father? He's joyful. The mother of his newborn child is joyful as she watches his tenderness. The world looks on and even the jaded rejoice. The kingdom is reunited as it watches the prince's joy. And, over here in every last Walmart, the meek and lowly are delighted as they watch the eight-year-old order her father, "Dad, let me do it."

It was inevitable, though, that as the father pushed the cart toward the door and his daughter descended from her throne to join him, my mind turned to Reformed sub-Christians who train their daughters to disdain fruitfulness. Presbyterian churches today have taught their daughters to hate the vulnerability of true wifehood and motherhood. We despise the thought of our daughters wasting their beauty, brilliance, and great importance on marriage, home, and motherhood.

The first rule of Reformed childrearing is "My daughter will never ever be just a housewife and mother. She's made for excellence and I mean to force her to pursue it."

I say "force" because, again and again, young Reformed college freshman, both Christian schooled and home schooled, respond with great joy when we teach them from Scripture that God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, and that He desires Christian marriage to propagate a godly seed. "You mean I can aspire to be a housewife and mother?!?! I've never heard that before! You're telling me that's enough? I'm not wasting my life by doing what, in the deepest part of my heart, I've always wanted more than anything else? O happy day!"

There's no doubt in my mind that the young father running his credit card at Walmart as his daughter waits and the cashier smiles at him tenderly is closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than all the Reformed lawyers, professorettes, and engineers who know how to pronounce "sovereign" and eagerly await Crossway's Gospel Transformation Bible while training their daughters to pursue that bitch goddess of success we call "excellence."

I love vulnerable mothers who are dependent on their husbands. I love daughters whose mothers have taught them to boss their fathers around. I love school supplies. I love pregnancy and birth and babies. And in each of these, I'm in lockstep with every prior generation of God's Covenant People.

Who gives a you-know-what about excellence and brilliance when a newborn baby—yea, a newborn baby daughter—is the alternative.

Here's to you, Michal and Heidi and Heather and Hannah and Emily and Amanda and Dawn and Nicole and Anna and Becky and Joyce and Laura and...

My precious Mary Lee.

21 Aug 01:24

Offering H.E.L.P. in Times of Suffering

by Justin Taylor

Doug Wolter, a pastor in Humboldt, Iowa, who is leading his church through a tragedy in their town after two high school graduates were killed in a car accident. Sometimes aacronyms can be helpful as prompts for us to remember basic truths that can be easy to forget. Here is what Doug offers:

HHope, not answers. When people are in the midst of suffering, they need hope more than answers. Hope is not found in solving the problem, but running to a person: Jesus. We may not know why everything happens, but we can hope in the person who understands suffering more than anyone and sympathizes with us in it.

EEnter into their pain; empathize with them. Did you know that grieving with someone can be the single most helpful expression of love and care? Weep with them. Just be there for them and be with them.

LListen to them and love them in tangible ways. Seek to understand their situation. James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” If you must speak, tell them, “I am standing with you. I am grieving with you.” And love them in tangible ways. Make a meal. Offer a small gift. Spend time with them.

PPray for them and patiently walk with them through the long journey of suffering. In the deepest of suffering, some may find it hard to even pray. We can intercede for them and carry this burden. And oftentimes, after the initial help has arrived, we forget the one who is suffering over time. But this is when the church is even more needed. To patiently walk with them and be with them through the long road of suffering.

12 Aug 06:17

How to Follow Up After Meeting Someone in Person

by A Manly Guest Contributor


Editor’s Note: This a guest post by John Corcoran.

Last year, AoM published a thorough guide on How to Network Effectively, written by Antonio. As he always does, Antonio crafted the definitive resource for how to prepare for and execute a night of networking and socializing.

But even if you already love networking and have enough personal style, charisma, and wit to put Ryan Gosling to shame, you might struggle with what comes next: the follow-up. What happens after you attend a networking or social mixer can make the difference between a productive evening and a complete waste of time.

Many men have trouble following through on and nurturing relationships established at these types of networking events. It’s not easy to approach people who you might have spoken with for only a few minutes before exchanging business cards and moving on. Even though it might be convenient to blame the networker, the problem is usually not with the person. The problem is the system, or lack thereof.

The Importance of Having a Follow-Up System

Although most people understand the important role networking and socializing can play in a career or a business, very few people put in place a methodic system for following up with the people they meet during an evening of networking and socializing. In fact, many just drop the ball entirely and never follow up at all.

Michael Port, a bestselling author and business coach, says having a strategy for keeping in touch with contacts you meet “may be the most important marketing strategy you’ll ever use.” In Book Yourself Solid, Port suggests taking the time to create a system for keeping in touch. “If you don’t have a systematized and automated Keep in Touch Strategy in place, you may, as the old saying goes, leave a lot of business on the table.”

Those who hate networking the most are usually the worst at following up. If you get sweaty palms just thinking about entering a room full of people you don’t know, I’ll bet you are the type who neglects the follow through entirely. That’s actually the worst thing you can do. Not following up just means you’ll have to haul yourself back out on the cocktail circuit again and again and again.

The solution is also not more networking. Spending more time networking without a follow-up system in place is like bailing water from a leaking ship — it will keep you afloat in the short term, but eventually your ship will sink. A better choice is to implement a better system.

Your business or career may even depend on it. Port argues that many businesses have failed simply because they didn’t have a strategy for checking in and keeping in touch with contacts and clients.

Approach Follow-Ups with a Philosophy of Service

When Keith Ferrazzi was growing up, he caddied at a local country club in the wealthy town next door to his own. During those long outings, he had ample time to observe how successful and wealthy members of the country club treated one another. “They found one another jobs, they invested time and money in one another’s ideas, and they made sure their kids got help getting into the best schools, got the right internships and ultimately got the best jobs,” says Ferrazzi. In other words, Ferrazzi saw that the very successful were invested in a spirit of service to one another.

In Never Eat AloneFerrazzi writes that the country club provided him “with a simple but profound lesson about the power of generosity. When you help others, they often help you.”

If you struggle with following up, the best approach is to think of your follow-ups with a spirit of generosity. Your goal is not to follow up with people you met because you want to get something from them; you are following up so you can help them, just like the successful members of the country club helped one another.

In the rest of this article, I’ll lay out a system for following up and maintaining contact with people you meet at networking and social events. I have broken down the system into three phases:

  • Phase 1 - what steps you should take immediately following a networking event.
  • Phase 2 - how you should continue to maintain contact on a regular interval (i.e. every 30 or 60 days).
  • Phase 3 - how you should deepen the relationship over the long-term.

Immediate Follow-Up

Let’s assume you just attended a social or networking event, and you met a number of men and women. You can see some potential business or career value to keeping in touch with the people you met. In other words, it wasn’t a Burning Man meetup and you didn’t just get back from Comic-Con, but you actually see business value to further developing these relationships.

Here’s what you should do immediately:

1. Take Notes About The People You Met

Immediately after an event, I will jot down a few quick notes about the people I met. Usually I will write these notes directly on the back of the business cards I collected. It’s important to do this that evening or the next morning while the conversations are still fresh in your mind.

I like writing down any personal details I learned about the person, such as his spouse’s name and his childrens’ names and ages if he has any, and any likes or dislikes or hobbies, such as favorite foods. You never know when this information may come in handy in the future.


2. Send Memorable First Emails Within 24 Hours

The second step is to send memorable follow-up emails. For this first email, you want to demonstrate that you are thoughtful, reliable, and consistent. Just as you will have put in effort to make a good impression at the event itself, you should also make a good impression in your first email. That means you should make sure there are no typos or spelling errors, run-on sentences, clumsy hit-ons, or off-color jokes.

Even though email can be a more casual form of communication, that does not mean it is acceptable for your email to sound like it came from a tween sending texts from the mall food court.

Here’s what your first email should not look like:

Hi Mike:

It was great meeting you, hopefully we’ll run into one another again. Keep in touch. I LOL’d all night – your so funny!


A better approach is to follow up on a topic you discussed when you met. Here is a better first email:

Hey Mike: It was great meeting with you, and talking about your burger business’s dilemma with re-branding itself.

I’ve thought more about it, and I think Avalanche Burgers would be a good new name. I saw a statistic recently that 50% of consumers prefer to purchase from a business with a sense of humor, and the fact that your burger joint is attached to a ski resort suggests you have a sense of humor about the threat of avalanches. I also asked my wife what she thought and she says Avalanche Burgers sounds “very cute.”

I have a cousin who works for a branding firm in Chicago. I’m happy to ask him for his input as well. Just let me know.

Good luck as you weigh your decision.

– Joe

You can see how much more memorable that email is. Here’s why this follow-up works:

  • Sharing Useful Data. Joe isn’t just pontificating like a know-it-all; he actually shared the useful statistic that 50% of consumers prefer to purchase from a business with a sense of humor, and this piece of information could be very valuable to someone seeking ideas for re-branding their business.
  • Surveying Others. Not only did Joe provide Mike with his opinion, but the fact that he asked his wife for her opinion demonstrated he put in extra effort to help Mike out.
  • Offering Further Help. By offering to reach out to his cousin, Joe is offering something of even greater potential value to Mike.
  • Focusing on the Recipient. Notice Joe did not ask Mike for anything at all.

This second email would take just a little more time than the first, and yet it demonstrates how useful Joe would be as a member of Mike’s extended network. Joe wants Mike to think, “Now this is the kind of guy I want to get to know better.”

3. Send a Handwritten Note

If you really want to make a great impression, send a handwritten note on nice stationery. I received a handwritten note as a thank you from someone I had met recently and I can say it made a big impression on me. I would still send an email anyways, however, so that you demonstrate immediate follow-through, and so it’s easy to connect via email again in the future.


4. Connect on Social Media

The next step is to connect with the person on LinkedIn. Once I am connected with someone on LinkedIn, I know I am less likely to lose touch with them and they will be reminded of me every time I post something to LinkedIn. It’s a great tool for remaining “top of mind” with people in your extended network.

I have a simple, free browser extension called Rapportive installed in my browser so when I start to compose an email in my Gmail account to a person, I see a snapshot of that person’s social media profiles on the right side of my “compose” window.

This great tool allows me to learn a little more about the person, and I can quickly connect on LinkedIn or other social media services in one click.

Monthly Follow-Ups

After the initial follow-up, it’s very easy to lose contact. So the next step is to create a practice of following up on a regular interval, i.e. every 30 days or every 90 days, or even every six months. You can decide whatever interval is comfortable, but be sure to stick to it. The point is to make sure you don’t let so much time go by that the relationship goes cold.

Add Follow-Up Reminders

The next step is to make sure you follow up with that person. This is one of the hardest parts of the follow-up process to manage.

You can go cheap on this strategy by trying to remember to follow up, although chances are contacts will fall through the cracks. Another option is to add reminders in your calendar, but that can be very labor intensive.

I recently started experimenting with an online service that allows me to categorize people based on how frequently I want to follow up with them, i.e. every 30 days, every 60 days, every 6 months, etc. While it isn’t totally necessary to use such a service, you may find as I have that the benefit outweighs the cost. There are plenty of other customer relationship management (CRM) services that you can use.

The most important thing, whether you use a paid service or not, is to make sure relationships don’t go stale. Make sure 6 or 12 months don’t go by without you checking in with people who are important to your business or career. They will forget about you.

How to Follow Up & Add Value

One of the hardest parts about following up with people who you still don’t know all that well is finding excuses for contacting that person without sounding like you are a used car salesman.

A few weeks ago, I got a voicemail completely out of the blue from a business broker I had met a year earlier. In his voicemail, he actually said he was calling to see if I had “any business for him” in the form of clients of mine who might want to sell their business. I felt used, like he had no interest in me at all, only in what I could provide for him. There are a number of excuses he could have used for calling out of the blue, but calling to ask if I had any business for him was not a good approach. Needless to say, I didn’t return the call.

Here are a few ways you can follow up without sounding like you’re only in it for you:

1. Send An Informative Article, a Blog Post, or a Book

One of the easiest and most effective excuses for contacting a person is because you want to share an article, blog post, or book that you think might be valuable to that person. This piece of content could relate to their business or profession, or it could easily relate to a passion, hobby, or family member.

For example, if I know a person’s daughter is about to start a new job after graduating from college, I might send that person an article I read on how to ace your first day and week at a new job. Oftentimes, demonstrating your thoughtfulness as to that person’s beloved family members is a way of forming a stronger personal bond with them.

2. Make an Introduction

Another strategy I love to use, especially with people I just met, is to introduce the new person to someone else I know. People love relevant introductions, especially when the introduction can help them in their business or career. What’s more, if the two people really hit it off, they will always remember you were the person who introduced them.

Here’s an example:

Hey Jim:

I’m cc’ing by way of introduction Phil Mitchell, who I met last night at a Chamber of Commerce mixer. Phil is a business coach in San Francisco focusing on software startups. It turns out Phil is also a huge Cubs fan so you two have something in common.

Phil: Jim lives down the street from me, and our sons are in preschool together. Jim is the founder of a startup called that I think is going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread. I thought you two would get along so that’s why I’m making the introduction.



NOTE to self: I should definitely never be a venture capitalist.

3. Invite the Person to a Free or Comped Event

Free or comped events are a great excuse for getting back in touch later. For example, I got an email recently from a woman I know, inviting me to a small panel discussion she thought would be of interest. She was a board member for the sponsoring organization, so she offered me a complimentary ticket.

The key here is the event has to be (A) free or paid for, and (B) relevant or useful to the person you just met. If you try to get the person you just met to buy a ticket to some event you are promoting, you will probably only annoy that person.

4. Mention the Person in your Writing

Another great way to make an impression is by mentioning the person you met, or their company, in a blog post or a YouTube video. For example, Antonio included a photograph of him and Tom Julian, one of his favorite men’s style authors, in his How to Network Effectively post. This is a perfect example of how to create an excuse for further contact. As an author, I’m sure Mr. Julian was grateful to Antonio for mentioning him on such a wildly popular and high-traffic blog.

How to Deepen your Relationships Over the Long-Term

The final step is to deepen your relationships over the long-term. Your goal should be to move the people you meet up the ladder to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Before you start deepening relationships, you should first ask yourself some tough questions about with whom you want to further relationships.

Determine Which People for Deeper Relationships

Even though you should approach networking with a philosophy of helping others first, you still want those who you help to be in a position to one day repay the favor.

I recommend writing out an actual list of 50+ people who you most want to get to know better over the next 12 months. Having to sit down and create this list may even help create greater clarity as to your business and career goals. The list may include everyone from celebrities to CEOs to colleagues and current or past clients or customers. Every once in a while, you should revisit this list and decide if there are any people who should be added or removed.

Choose What In-Person Events to Use

Once you’ve determined who you want to deepen relationships with, you should start reaching out to meet for lunch, coffee, or a drink. This is a great way to get to know the person better than you probably did in your initial meeting.

There are an infinite number of different types of in-person events you could engage in — lunches, coffees, drinks, dinners, sporting events — but you should choose carefully. If you don’t naturally like networking, then be sure you don’t put yourself in a situation that will make it more uncomfortable. If you’re not athletic, don’t get roped into a golf game. If you hate drinking, don’t meet someone for a happy hour at a bar. If you are great at one-on-one meetings, then perhaps a quiet lunch at an out-of-the-way cafe would be best. Play to your strengths.

Which industry you are in is also going to make a difference as to what events are appropriate. Here are a few ideas:

  • Athletic Outings - in some industries, it may be popular to network over a round of golf. In others, it may be popular to play pickup basketball.
  • Entertainment Outings - professional ballgames, musical performances, and plays can be a nice way to get to know someone in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Meals, Drinks, or Coffee - if you don’t have a lot of money, this can be a great way to network. Most people have to get lunch or coffee each day anyways, so you might as well turn these activities into networking opportunities by inviting someone to join you.
  • Shared Interest Events - from attending religious services to a joint outing at the shooting range, if you have a shared interest, that’s a great opportunity to bond.
  • Skype or Phone Calls - if the person lives far from you, then you can always connect via Skype or over a phone call to get to know each other better.

Bring a Small Gift

For bonus points, bring a small gift to give to your recipient when you meet. A gift, however small, can make a huge impression. When Michael Fishman, a marketing advisor and consultant, set up an initial lunch meeting with Ramit Sethi, the popular blogger and bestselling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, he brought along an obscure, out-of-print book as a gift. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz sells for around $100 on eBay – a fact which Sethi didn’t know at the time.

Sethi was so impressed by the gesture that when Fishman later asked Sethi to speak at a conference Fishman was organizing, Sethi agreed to waive his standard $20,000 fee.

When you offset the price of the book, that one small gift saved Fishman $19,900. Not too bad for a used book.

Send Thank You Emails After Your Meeting

After you’ve met, send a follow-up email or note thanking the person for meeting with you, no matter who you met. Whether the person is CEO of a Fortune 500 company or unemployed, they gave up their time to meet with you, and thanking them aligns with the spirit of service we are seeking to achieve.

Constantly Re-evaluate Your Approach

The final thought I want to leave you with is to constantly think about how you can improve your follow-up system. Your system should be fluid, just like relationships are fluid. Most of all, proceed with a positive attitude and spirit of helping others, and you should have no trouble developing deeper and more meaningful relationships.

What are your tips for following up after you meet someone new at a networking event? Share them with us in the comments!


John Corcoran is an attorney, former Clinton White House Writer, and blogger at, where he writes about how to use political strategies and tactics in business. You can download his free ebook, “10 Ways to Use Secret Political Strategies and Tactics to Grow Your Business.”